Before you start to read this, take a deep breath. Go ahead, take a long, slow, deep inhale and just when you think you’ve taken enough, go even deeper. Hold it for a moment and then exhale even longer than your inhale. Now repeat that two more times. How do you feel? I’ll bet you don’t feel worse than when you first clicked on this!

 

Imagine if you took moments throughout your day to do that when feeling stressed, tired, overwhelmed, when needing a pause or just for resetting. How would your mood, energy and whole day shift?

 

“Take a deep breath, it will be ok”

 

How many times do we hear this from someone when we are visibly stressed or suggest it with good intentions to a friend, family member or coworker when we see them dealing with a challenging situation? Yet, how often do we actually heed the advice and for how long? We may stop, take a deep breath, maybe even a couple longer breaths but then we move on, never to return to that moment of conscious and intentional lifeforce until the next time we panic or simply feel stressed.

 

What is so special about our breath other than the fact that it keeps us alive? We can go without water, food and even touch for extended periods of time. We can go without sunshine, laughter, love, but we cannot go without breath. Not only does our breathing bring much needed oxygen to every single cell, it also removes waste. Both super important but the most noticeable effect? Deep, conscious breathing has the ability to evoke an overall sense of wellbeing. It is indeed our life force.

 

We have control of this semi automatic function. We choose how deep or how shallow our inhale and exhale can be. So then why do most of us pay so little attention to it? How is it that we take it for granted like our precious heart as it continuously beats without prompting or permission?

 

When I’m anxious, which used to be nearly 24/7, including in my sleep, my breath would be most shallow and at times stop altogether. There are still times I catch myself holding my breath. Not for any particular reason anymore, other than it being a residual habit from my childhood and then later my first marriage of walking on eggshells, unsure of what might happen next in both environments. The body really does remember and has a hard time letting go of old habits. I want to breathe deeply and meaningfully, but I also forget so reminding myself must also become a habit in itself.

 

Breathe Like a Baby

 

Barring any complications, children breathe correctly from when they are born, filling their bellies with air and exhaling deeply but it’s some time in their early years where they’re breathing patterns shift. As they become more aware of their surroundings, the natural instincts begin to shut down as they start to mold into their environment. The inhale becomes more shallow and the exhale shorter and instead of the belly filling with air, the chest fills and the diaphragm starts supporting a more shallow breath. When you catch yourself doing this, reach back to that baby you once were and show some love by inhaling and exhaling deeply.

 

Lately, I’ve been dealing with some challenging situations. Some have left me breathless. Again, I remind myself that the one thing I do have at any moment is my breath. It is in these times when I feel so lost, I give myself permission to stop doing and to breathe if only for a few rounds. This small act feels so good. So my friend, take a deep breath because we know, we all need it.

 

Speaking of intentional breathing, there will be lots of that going on in Sedona, Arizona next March 9-14, 2025 during our yoga, mind-body ‘Clearing the Path’ retreat. Connie and I are excited to be joining forces to create an environment for personal transformation. (Sorry, guys, this time it’s women only.)

The interest has been phenomenal! If this experience sounds like what you need, be sure to sign up for the newsletter emails. All information will be sent this way.