So what is the secret of the breath? Our breath brings us into this present moment, body and mind together. Yes, we are breathing all the time, but here I am referring to a conscious and intentional breath that can shift your nervous system and change your physiology in minutes.
Our nervous system has two poles; the sympathetic nervous system is the flight/fight aspect and the parasympathetic nervous system, the relax, rest and digest. When the flight/fear side is stuck on, which it often is in our overstimulated world, we feel stressed and amped, often with ‘can’t turn it off’ anxiety. That constant defensive mode can, and does, lead to a world of hurt…and directly away from happiness. The secret? We can switch on the relaxation and safety side of the nervous system with deep slow belly breathing.
Now, take a moment to breath in through your nose slowly and let the breath expand the diaphragm and the belly. Easy does it, gently, without forcing. Now, slowly exhale from your belly, taking your time to empty all the way. Continue for a minute or two, slowing down the pace of your breath. (It helps to loosen anything that might be tight around your belly and to relax your jaw). There, you did it. Now it will be easier to tune in…to respond rather than react.
It takes just a only a few moments to shift your nervous system and ‘reset’ and relax, but the trick is to do it often enough to retrain your nervous system and brain. Make it a habit, in other words. The good thing is that you can do it anywhere! In the car, at your desk, standing in line – just like that you can reset and shift your chemistry to calm. And when you do you can make a choice to respond in a way that actually supports your wellbeing and that of others. Reset, come back to yourself and choose something new, choose feeling good, choose a healthy and peaceful focus. You can do it, just start with your breath.
There are short, guided breath practice podcasts here at the site to help give you some pointers with your breath…Give them a try.