Stop right there! Now take an easy, deep breath in through your nose… nice and deep, down into your belly. Hold it for a few seconds and then expel by blowing through your pursed lips. Do it a couple of times and see if you notice a shift in your focus and feel a little more relaxed. Question: how often today did you stop to think about this most basic human function?
The first thing we do as we emerge from the womb is to inspire – take in our first breath – and when we die, we expire – release our last breath. In between, depending on your age, sex and physical condition you’ll take 7,000 to 30,000 breaths a day. If you average 18,000 breaths a day, by the age of 70 you would have made your poor, old lungs take 459,900,000 breaths.
The easier and more fully you breathe, the less stress there is on your heart as it pumps vital, oxygen-rich blood to the billions of cells throughout your body.
The next question is how you are breathing! If you catch yourself breathing fairly shallowly into your upper chest, probably sitting with your shoulders hunched over your computer, you’re only using about 1/4 of your normal lung capacity.
This type of breathing signals the muscles and organs of action to be ready to move or take action. It’s sort of like driving with one foot on the gas and the other on the brake at the same time. No wonder you feel worn out at the end of the day!
On the other hand, if you breathe easy and relaxed, you’re stimulating a relaxed and easy response to the world around you. Thing is, for us A-types it can require conscious effort – real mindfulness.
So, at least a couple of times during the day, take time for a breath break. Go ahead and actually schedule them in your calendar or on your mobile. Then, do a body scan to make sure your posture is upright and your breath is coming easily. If it isn’t – make it happen.
Both types of breathing are necessary. But if you want a calm mind, clear head and inner balance, try this technique from Dr.Andrew Weil. Not only will you feel better, you just might live longer!