Breathing is the first thing we do when we're born and the last thing we'll do before we die but how much importance do you give to your breathing?
When we are upset or stressed our breathing becomes quick and shallow. Breathing deeply and slowly instantly calms us down mentally and physically. It helps to calm the nervous system and re-connects us to our core self.
Taking time in 4-easy steps, even if it’s just a couple of minutes a day to practice mindful breathing has huge benefits on your overall health and mood.
A great, simple breathing exercise for calming both the nervous system and the over stimulated mind is a timed breath where the exhale is longer than the inhale. When your exhale is a few counts longer than your inhale, the vagus nerve (running from the neck down through the diaphragm) sends a signal to your brain to turn up your parasympathetic nervous system and turn down your sympathetic nervous system.
The sympathetics command your fight or flight response and when they fire, your heart rate and your breathing speed up, and stress hormones like cortisol start pumping through your bloodstream preparing your body to face a threat. If the threat is, “A lion is chasing me and I need to run away” this is helpful. If the threat is, “I'm late for work” or, “I’m so upset with….” it's not helpful, and in fact can be damaging. For when cortisol is elevated for too long or too frequently it disturbs all the hormonal systems of the body leading to stress and disease.
The parasympathetics, on the other hand control your rest and digestion, the ability to relax and even help you to meditate. When the parasympathetic system is dominant, your breathing slows, your heart rate drops, your blood pressure lowers as the blood vessels relax and your body is put into a state of calm and healing.
So how do you activate your parasympathetic response? It's easy. Mindful breathing for a few minutes is all it takes!
Pick a count for your inhale and a count for your exhale that is a little longer. Comfort is key, don't force yourself to breathe longer, that will come with practice. I like starting with 3 counts in, and 5 counts out, but we’re all different so relax and find your own rhythm. It could be for 2 counts in and 4 out, or 5 counts in and 8 out. Notice how your breathing slows down as you relax more.
Step by step instructions:
In all the wellbeing and self management workshops I’ve run over the years offering mindful breathing tips is the most important element. There's a wonderful phrase, 'the wellspring of love within' that comes from the writings of John O'Donohue. I believe this 'wellspring of love' is within us all and it is through our breath that we allow ourselves to connect to it just take some time every day to breathe more mindfully. Not only will it help you to relax, feel good and be healthy it holds the key to the promise of our true potential.
To read 'how grounding connects us and inspires good health' click here.
Treat yourself to a day of mindful presence where you are invited to relax, tune into nature, the full moon and yourself. Enjoy being part of a small group of like-minded folk as you surrender into Autumn with healing sound. Give yourself some valuable 'time out'. And what more perfect place than overlooking the sea and Exmoor National Park.
Discover the magic of the Autumn Equinox. Experience a sense of renewal and rebalance as you tune into these natural energies. Let this wave of soothing and nourishing energy support your growth and transformation
Each of us holds a light and power of our own. When we are in harmony with the Earth and our inner world - love, joy and an infinite sense of peace flows through us. Our power is not lost. We have forgotten who and what we are and it is up to each one of us to wake up and to re-member.