Would you be interested? If there were a scientifically peer reviewed protocol that calms the central nervous system relieving stress, anxiety and depression, AND that could bring relief and/or reduce dysfunction in every major organ in the body, would you be interested in trying it?
You won't believe how simple this life hack is…
What if I told you, you can start seeing remarkable health results by just taking 15 minutes out of your all too busy schedule?
What if it were free, almost effortless, involved no special diet, no pain but gain? Would you be interested in trying it?
Sounds far-fetched, like snake oil? It’s not and it’s too simple. So simple, in fact, that most of my client’s, though intrigued, do not follow through. Those that do, bring a unique and simple change that starts them on the road to feeling better mentally and physically.
It's as simple as breathing; deep breathing…
Introduction Breathing is something we all do naturally. However, our daily breathing is typically shallow and oxygen deficient. Yet we are often unaware of this. Bringing our focus intentionally onto the breath helps us ground ourselves in the present moment. Our goal is to learn to observe our breath without reacting, letting go of external and internal distractions, simply watching each breath as it happens without feeling a need to change it.
Deep breathing is more like a vitamin and less like an Aspirin; it’s most effective when applied daily. It forms the basis of a greater meditative practice which can bring significant health benefits, calming our chaotic minds, and stimulating our central nervous system affecting our brains and entire body systems.
A starting suggestion is 15 mins per day - three times a day for five minutes. Although the intention is to focus on breathing, you will begin to experience how unfocused our minds can be. You may find that your mind wanders more than you realized before. It is okay for this to happen and it doesn't mean that you are doing anything wrong. Simply acknowledge any distraction and gently bring your attention back to focus on your breath.
Benefits Deep breathing stimulates the Vagus nerve in our body – our rest and relaxation response. The Vagus nerve is part of the parasympathetic nervous system which runs counter to the sympathetic nervous system – our fight - flight – freeze (stress, anxiety) response. Deep breathing stimulates the Vagus nerve, calming our central nervous system, reducing and relieving stress, anxiety and depression.
Preparation In a quiet place, sit or lie in a comfortable position. You may choose to close your eyes or keep them open. Place one hand on your belly and the other on your chest. As you begin breathing remember to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth taking an additional two seconds to exhale. Breathe in (nose) on a count of four, hold for one second, and breathe out (mouth) on a count of six. Remember, this is “belly breathing” – your stomach rises with each breath in and falls with each breath out. Your chest is neutral – it doesn’t rise or fall. Feel the hand on your belly rise and fall. Remember to eventually stop counting and simply focus on breathing out more slowly than breathing in, gradually and gently increasing the depth of your breathing.
Time of mindfulness As you breathe begin to gently move the focus of your attention onto the process of breathing. Simply observe each breath as it happens focusing on the rise and fall of your chest or abdomen, or on the sensation of the breath at the nostrils or in the lungs. Really feel what it’s like to breathe, without feeling the need to change your breath, just observing it as it happens.
As you become more practiced, breathe in (nose) deeply and, in your mind, visualize the word “CALM”. Breathe it in – see it entering the nostrils. As you breathe out (mouth), breathe out deeply and, in your mind, visualize the word “RELAX”. Breathe it out – see it exiting the mouth. With each breath acknowledge any distraction, return your focus to breathing and your key words “calm & relax” and breathe in and out more deeply.
Ending the exercise As you come to an end of the five minutes, take a moment to yourself, to really feel connected with the present moment. Expand your awareness from the breath into the room around you, and as you feel comfortable to do so, open your eyes and bring the exercise to a close. Thank yourself for taking this time of self-care and for making the commitment to good health.
“You can't go back and start a new beginning, but you can start today and create a new ending…”
___________________________________________________________________________________ Larry G. Pardy CD RSW BSc. HBSW MDiv.