The Power of Breathing
Our Feelings and fears drive our internal thinking patterns, and our self-talk influences our emotional state. Somewhere in the translation of real versus perceived fear, the body becomes conditioned to react the same way as in the past.
It’s in the sequence of repetitive reactions that the body effectively becomes the mind - which we now understand to be the ‘bodymind’. The more our mind is triggered by past experiences, the more our physical body is primed for reactivity. Various associations related to a stressor become familiar triggers to our unique perception of safety or danger.
When in this reactive state we often hold our breath, stop breathing momentarily, clench our jaw, tighten our chest, and almost certainty, our breaths become short and constricted. Our body is physiologically preparing us to fight, flee or freeze, even as we are going about our daily lives.
Therefore, it’s not only that our thoughts are creating stress, but that our nervous system conditioning is unconsciously reacting to cues of caution or danger without us being aware of what is happening internally.
A nervous system that is on high altert, for the most part, continues to fuel a highly functioning lifestyle, even though it will compromise ones’ health over time. When our nervous system is deregulated and is operating in fight or flight, we may experience the below list of reactions.
experience poor concentration
May feel distant from their situation and or ambivalent
Unable to embody their present moment experience
The neocortex is known as the CEO of our brain, we need it to be functioning in order to step out of stress and into conscious awareness. To access our full creative and problem-solving potential, we must be operating from our higher thinking regions in the cortex. This is where using the power of breathing can be so beneficial for opening the doorway to calm, conscious, and focused awareness.
We can glen much wisdom by learning how to pull our bodies out of the past and bring our awareness back into the safety of the present moment. We can disrupt the pattern of reviving the past, and stop our thoughts which increase stress, tension, and anxiety.
The easiest most effective way to do this is by recognizing the signs of stress - rapid shallow breathing, heat rising in the head or neck, nervous energy, queasy stomach, heavy chest, tight jaw or throat, heat, sweating, and immediately taking conscious control over the breath.
**Conscious, focused breathing is a simple and highly effective tool that can consciously counteract the subconscious conditioning creating havoc in the mind and body.
Even just 10 minutes of consisten quiet breathing, observation and reflection a day, can produce a greater ability to restore homeostasis, build resilience, instill gratitude, and create a more peaceful and positive mindset.
In this state of being you interrupt the brain’s pattern of unconscious reaction and can easily:
slow your heart rate
Calm your nervous system
Lower blood pressure
Quiet your reactive mind
Become conscious and aware in the present moment
Choose how you want to feel
Release patterns of conditioning
One example of a simple breathing exercise you can do pretty much anywhere is Box Breathing.
Box Breathing is an ancient breathwork that has been adopted by Navy SEALS. This style of breathing serves to slow the sympathetic stress response, AKA our fight, flight, or freeze response. To do it, set a timer for five minutes and then with your spine straight, close your eyes and inhale for a count of four, then hold for a count of four, then exhale for a count of four, and finish for another count of four. Repeat until you feel centered and grounded in your body.