A Common Misconception which Stagnates you in Achieving your Wellness Goals
You can survive for 3 to 4 months without food. You can survive for 4 to 14 days without water. Both of these are dependent on your body condition and the environment in which you are in during the fasting period.
Without a breath, irreversible brain damage occurs in 6 minutes. When was the last time you thought about your next breath or your last breath? When was the last time you thought about your current breath? Most people think they know how to breathe, and they do know how to breathe well enough to survive. However, you may want to thrive!
A study in the Netherlands revealed that 100% of the patients in the cardiac hospital having bi-pass surgery were upper chest and neck breathers. A study, performed in India in conjunction with University of Alabama, revealed 100% of people who began and continued to practice healthy, balanced breathing patterns, in combination with moderate movement activities and a moderately healthy diet, had a significant decrease in blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels in 1 week and within 24 months had significant reduction of coronary blockages which reduced their risk of heart attack.
Studies show optimized breathing methods can decrease pain, increase circulation, increase mental focus and memory, decrease insomnia and headaches, reduce anxiety, balance the appetite, and reduce hot flashes. These are only a few benefits of breathing well.
From the moment you took your first breath, your whole body breathed. Every cell vibrates with the movement of each breath you take. Many of us have forgotten what it feels like to breathe completely, fully, to nourish our tissues with the breath of life.
At this point you might be thinking I know how to breathe. I have been doing it my whole life! It has worked so far! I do not need to spend time learning about breathing or how to do it.
The common misconceptions are:
I know how to breathe!
How important can breathing be?
You breathe 17,280 times during an average day!
Anything you do that many times a day has to be important!
The truth is, breathing is powerful and can help you break through barriers, the same barriers which create stagnation in your progress towards your wellness goals.
As I stated earlier, studies have shown the power of breathing. In conjunction with moderate movement and moderately healthy eating, blockages in the cardiac vessels were dramatically reduced without the use of medication.
Digestion, brain function, and muscle contractions, to name a few things in the body, all depend on oxygen. The very energy every one of our cells uses to perform its job is dependent on oxygen.
You can read anatomical and physiological examples right down to the molecular activities, but the truth is you very likely aren't interested in reading all of those details. Have you ever heard the saying, “A picture is worth 1,000 words”? When you personally feel something it is worth more than a million words?
How can you begin to experience and to feel the power of breath in your own body? I want to invite you to participate in an activity I call a breathing investigation. During this activity you are just making observations about your relaxed breathing pattern. First, don't make it hard; it is intended to be easy and natural. The most common observation in the clinic when a client is asked to breathe is they take a huge, over inflated breath initiated with the neck muscles. Be relaxed and fill your lungs gently.
Second, I suggest you refrain from making judgments or changes. Be comfortable with what is. Notice and observe what is. Be aware and make mental notes of your breathing patterns. This helps you establish a baseline. How do you currently breathe? What about your pattern feels good? What movement does not feel as good?
Begin by closing your eyes and bringing your thoughts inside your body. If you have thoughts unrelated to breathing, tip toe into your mind, acknowledge them, and excuse them. You are focusing on your breath. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. Notice your pace, the pace that comes natural to you. Notice the size of your breath, the expansion of your chest that comes natural to you as you inhale. Notice the gentle retraction of your body as you exhale. Notice the first point of movement as you begin to inhale. Where do you first invite the air into your body from? Feel the weight of your body, the elasticity of your body, and gently ease the air from your body. Is there a pause between your inhalation and your exhalation? Are these actions very close together?
Place one hand on your neck and one hand on your abdomen. Notice what you feel as you inhale and then exhale. Do you feel the vibration through your neck? What do you notice about your movement?
Notice how you feel emotionally and physically, having taken time and focus to increase your awareness of your breath of yourself. Take a moment and save a record of this experience in your mental data base.
When you are ready, you may return to this time and space by opening your eyes.
What did you learn during this activity? I invite you to write down some of your observations. Where did you first move as you brought the air into your body? Did you notice any areas of tightness in your rib cage or abdomen? Did you move more in your stomach region, your rib cage, or in your neck? Did you get dizzy or feel light headed?
People ask, “What is the best way to breathe?” The best way to breathe depends on your goals. Learning to breathe using different patterns helps to support your body in achieving different goals. Belly breathing or expanding the stomach area consumes the least amount of energy and is the most relaxing. It also helps to keep food moving through your intestines at a healthy pace. If you experienced dizziness or became light-headed during the breathing investigation, it is very likely you would benefit from some activities to improve your breathing patterns.
I have been practicing breathing activities for more than 25 years to improve my wellness. I continue to learn new skills regularly. If you check out my YouTube channel, Move2Improve, there are several videos to help you practice breathing in different ways to help you find your best breathing pattern. Practice can be performed at stop lights, in the bathroom, while washing your hands, or while doing the dishes or ironing. It is also important to practice breathing as your only current activity. Invite family members to do some breathing activities with you. After practicing these activities for several days or a week, repeat the breathing investigation activity. Notice any changes. Focus on the things you feel improved. Pick a couple of things to work on, and do a little bit every day.
As always, I invite you to…STEP INTO BALANCE!