Has anyone ever said to you, now just take a breath, breathe, relax? Why would someone tell you to breathe to relax? Because our breath is all mighty and powerful when it comes to relaxing us, changing our energy, our brain chemistry, our health, our outlook and our hearts. And that’s just mentioning only a few advantages to breathing.
We don’t have to think about breathing to breathe, well unless your on a ventilator, like Christopher Reeve was or you can’t breath due to an illness like asthma or your allergic to something or any assortment of reasons why breathing would be difficult leading one to actively focus on their breathing. Kind of like most of us have been made, by our spinal cord injuries, to focus on much of life we would have never thought about.
Most of us just mindlessly breath, letting the medulla oblongata, is that like inagodadavida, do its job. The problem with letting the medulla oblongata just do its job is that like most auto pilot bodily functions, it will do just enough to keep us alive and if your anything like me you want to do more then just BE alive, you want to live to your fullest potential! Living to my fullest potential means taking an active part in the process of living and responsibility for the outcomes.
Before I put on the career cape of athlete, breathing was just happening without my input. Once I began actively training my body to perform daring feats, what I quickly grasped was there is power in my breath and I want that power! So I purposely began manipulating my breath as a common occurrence. I ascertained that fast, slow, deep, steady all forms of breathing, used with conscious administration were tools I could use to my advantage, not just in sports but in my life.
My breath has sent me into the black hue of an unknown oubliette when I constricted and hyperventilated during the swim start of the Ironman Triathlon on the big island of Hawaii. The gun blasted start, turning the water into the agitation cycle of a washing machine as hundreds of people began swimming and me into a vertigo spinning top breathing 30 plus inhale-exhales a minute.
As I spun, a loud internal voice, thank goodness no one else heard it, screamed “I can’t do this” while an even louder calm voice chanted, “swim” I chose swim. Because I had practiced my even, repetitive breathing when swimming my breath fell into a known easy cadence, my anxiety floating away on the waves.
Breathing properly is a skill, becoming masterful at any skill takes practice. As a coach of mine told me it’s not practice makes perfect it’s perfect practice makes perfect. The perfect breath is a deep breath that begins with inhaling. Most people inhale through their mouths, wrong, the nose is the place for inspiration, the act of inhaling. Look at this picture and how much more space the nose has then the mouth for oxygen to pass right on through into our diaphragm.
That’s right I said diaphragm, not the chest where the lungs are thought to be, well they are in the chest but they much hang lower. Pulling oxygen down into the belly is the benchmark of the power breath, a breath that can rock my world in a minute. When I zero in on breathing slow, steady and deep adding a pause after the inspiration, I really, really like that inhaling is called inspiration, I can lower my breath count to five and under (most folks are 12-15 breathes per minute) as well as lower my heart rate, my blood pressure and ease strong emotions. Making a practice of this for five minutes a day creates a powerful stress-buster in times of need, indeed.
When I first began practicing the deep belly breathing I needed a visual because I couldn’t feel that area of my body. I would lay on the floor with a blood pressure cuff positioned between the floor and my back where my belly button is. The cuff has some air in it so that when I inhaled, forcing my spine to the floor I could see, on the gage, the pressure rise and I knew that I was practicing perfectly.
Knowing I can change my mental and physical state by changing my breath is an easy way for me to feel powerful in a world where I sometimes feel powerless. When I feel powerful I know all things are possible.
Breathe deep the gathering gloom, Watch lights fade from every room. Moody Blues, Days of Future Passed
Blessings to All, with Joy Candace
© 2013 Candace Cable
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