BREATHE TO FEEL GOOD
DON'T BREATHE = FEEL BAD
SHOULD WE LEARN AND DO THIS WELL?
[The minimum repertoire one should have is breathing for full functioning balance (energy), breathing for calming and restoring emotional balance, and breathing for energizing when we need it to get back in balance or for a burst of energy needed when one is languishing a bit. Check off which of these you have mastered, using the Breathing Contents, Links page. Do you qualify to be a well functioning human being?]
BREATHING INAPPROPRIATELY - AND CATCHING IT!
We get caught up in pushing our foot down on the car floor, even though we are often the passenger. In the process of trying to hurry things up or to protect ourselves by "holding", we start to breathe in our upper chests and to breathe shallowly as if we are about to meet an emergency. We "brace" ourselves in a constant tense position to deal with the imagined and perpetuated "current and present danger", which actually is not present and where there is nothing actually happening right now - it is mostly off in the land of "what might happen in the future."
Breathing in our upper body (chest) is inefficient, requiring more energy but also causing us to only fill the top 1/3 of our lungs, while failing to exhale and clear out our old stale air remaining to do no good, restricted the cleaning and clearing functions of breathe. Emotionally it exacerbates and causes anxiety, sending ancient signals to our lower brains telling them we are in danger (for that is the type of breathing we might due to get ready to run away).
We've forgotten how to breathe the way nature set it up, with some "wisdom" (workability over the years via evolution). We need to instead take in and push out more air all at once, filling the lungs with oxygen and vitally exhaling out the toxins and waste products. We need to use our diaphragms to move the air (and to massage our organs to tone them up). This means that when we breathe we not only have our ears over our middle shoulders, shoulders back, and our chests not bent in, but also that our shoulders and chest do not move (except for a residual effect on the ribs expanding) and our belly widens and extends forward drawing in air. We expel the air thoroughly, "remembering" that "out" is almost as vital as "in", using the diaphragm, as the belly "contracts". (And we do it without efforting, smoothly, naturally.)
BUT, DON'T STOP HERE!!!!!!!
The true masters of life do not stop at "pretty good". They carry the gaining of expertise further, all the way to maximizing the benefit of the learning to the "optimal" level (not too much) - and they install it thoroughly, being sure to fix it whenever it goes out of balance.
A good combination book for the lay person on breathing is written by a highly respected psychologist who uses it not only to provide physical balance but also emotional, psychological balance: Breathe: The Simple, Revolutionary 14-Day Program to Improve Your Mental and Physical Health, Dr. Belisa Vranich. Please read it in order to meet your minimal requirements for being licensed to breath as a human being. How could anyone accept less for their lives? Indeed, if we do something many, many times in life, doesn't it make sense that we would greatly benefit over and over from doing it right? Isn't it "very unsmart" to leave our breathing in a dysfunctional operating pattern??? (We breath more than 420 million times in a normal life!) And sometimes we even pick up the pace and get into full hyperventilation, to prepare for emergency with this superoxygenation. But then we don't go anywhere in a full out run, and our carbon dioxide balance goes out of whack, making us dizzy and not able to think and making our danger system go off with a big, big alarm, and sometimes even full blown panic. All for naught. All out of sheer stupidity (to put it bluntly) - which means we are not being knowledgeable to do what is right and we are doing the opposite.
We must, in all cases, whether severe or slight, intervene intelligently. This means that we first pay attention (note in our conscious brain) if we are "off" in anyway. This could be feeling bad emotionally or not feeling good physically - but we pay attention such that we note it before it gets to be a big thing.
THIS WORKS THE OTHER WAY AROUND, TOO!
If you are not breathing right, I'll guarantee you that you don't feel good. But notice that there is a two-way street here.
If you don't feel good, in most cases, all you have to do is start breathing deeply, even letting yourself sigh at times, and guess what?
You'll start feeling better.
In fact, when you are hungry or just think you're needing to snack for comfort, what you really can do is be like an "airian" (who are reputed to be able to get all their nutrition needs from air only). Breathe deeply and slowly for a minute (or even a half a minute), or give yourself a real "treat" by doing it for two minutes, and you'll feel better. You'll feel better than a cigarette smoker needing to suck in some air via smoke. You'll feel better than you feel after eating junk food, currently, and immensely better in the long term!
Jill Bolte Taylor, a scientist writing a very unique book about her stroke impairing the left side of her brain, discovered that an emotion will last only one and a half minutes, 90 seconds, on its own and then it will disappear on its own - gone, kaput! (But...if we re-fuel the emotion, re-ignite it by feeding it some more of the thoughts that caused it in the first place, it will give the false appearance of sustaining itself and being more permanent.)
The other relevant "fact" is that the hunger urges will go away after 12 minutes or less. All we need to do is hold on, rather than start eating like some ravenous, staving animal that can't wait another moment! Just take the magical pause and your life will go alot better, you'll manage it alot better.
And, if you intentionally deep breathe often, your brain will be engaged more and you'll be alot brighter and far more effective - and likely alot thinner (a little more like an airian.
Oh, and emotionally the deep, slow breathing signals the Amygdala alarm system to relax as it signifies feeling safe (we breathe alot slower and deeper when we think we are safe!).
(You should use deep breathing as part of the vital practice that has one being smarter and wiser, that of the taking, frequently, a Short Pause.)
LOTS OF DIVIDENDS
Cleanses our body of toxins, provides more oxygen to the brain, makes us feel calmer and safer, lowers anxiety often significantly, and we will eat less and do alot less addictive type behavior (because we are relieving our discomfort in an alternative, healthy way!).
Is that worth it?
Don't you think a life time commitment to being mindful of this and to do it every time would be the thing to do?
Like essential, not optional!
Indeed, deep breathing, though it don't sound like much, is one of the key behaviors that are essential to a good life and to feeling happy! (In fact, it is a major action to take to offset depression and anxiety!)
THE EXERCISE TO DO
For 21 days, notice (and monitor, recording it on a monitoring sheet), check off on your monitoring sheet whether you consistently noticed your breathing and whether you felt tense at times and then also check off on the sheet that you corrected your breathing by taking slow deep breaths.
Also, if every time you feel bad or hungry or feel discomfort you drink a full glass of water, you'll feel better, so you might add that to your test period to see if it should be a habit also.