We take over 20,000 breaths a day. How many of them do you notice?
Thankfully, breathing is unconscious and we do it without even trying. But what if being conscious of our breath could make our lives richer and more fulfilling?
If you’re willing to check in with your breath, you can literally see where you’re at.
Are you calm and relaxed? Are you stressed and tense? Not sure? Check in with your breath. Have you ever noticed that when you’re stressed out or feeling panic, you’re nearly always also short of breath?
While I’m not a medical professional, I am nearly certain that how we feel is directly connected to how we breathe. Here me out. If you want to calm down, all you have to do is focus on your breathing and slow it down, which will also slow your heart rate and lower your blood pressure. Noticing your breath and focusing on it will help you re-center yourself.
I’d like to propose an experiment that will drop your blood pressure dramatically. Try this out and see how it feels. Take deep, full breaths and breathe in for a count of three. Then, breathe out slowly for a count of eight. Repeat this cycle for only two minutes. Be aware of how you feel. I’m willing to bet you’ll feel remarkably different when you’re finished.
Don’t believe me? Get yourself a sphygmomanometer. That’s the inflatable-cuff-armband your doctor uses to measure your blood pressure. I promise if you do this little experiment, you will see a positive change. I tried it and it worked.
Anders Olsson, author of “Conscious Breathing: Discover The Power Of Your Breath,” wrote, “When our breathing is dysfunctional oxygen supply is limited, and the conscious mind will work a little slower and perceive incoming stimuli as slightly more stressful and threatening.” In other words, if you’re stressed out, there’s a good chance you need to breathe.
And like most of the changes we want to make in life, it doesn’t really happen all at once. Over time though, the results of developing a conscious breathing practice can be life changing.
Your breath is your best friend. Try to treat it as such. If you take care of it, it will take care of you.
James Nestor, author of “Breath,” said, “The only people who could benefit from breathing correctly are the people who breathe.” Great news! That includes you.
William W. Brown is founder and board chair of Legacy Early College. [email protected]