Doing Conscious Deep Breathing

Breathing. We humans breathe about 20,000 breaths each day. That's a lot.

You don't think about it when you breathe. You don't count. The breaths just happen automatically.

How come, when under severe stress, we tend to hyperventilate? Breathe faster. Breathe more. Or, feel shortness of breath.

That happened to Connie. When she arrived home, she found her husband and 4-year-old daughter gone from their house.

While contacting her husband over the phone, she could hardly breathe. Her husband wasn't answering. Weeks before, Connie's husband confessed to an affair with a woman living in another country.

Such change in breathing is usually a first sign of overwhelming thoughts and feelings. In situations of fear, anxiety, or crisis.

What can you do in sensitive or painful moments like this?

Do your "first aid:" Conscious breathing.

Focus your mind on breathing deeply.

"Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor," writes Thic Nhat Hanh.

Your slow, deep, rhythmic conscious breathing is one of the best ways to detach from your negative thoughts and feelings. You exercise shifting your awareness from your worry.

Dr. Herbert Benson, from Harvard Mind-Body Medical Institute, calls it "relaxation response." He describes it this way:

"The relaxation response is a physical state of deep rest that changed the physical and emotional responses to stress ... and the opposite of the flight or fight response."