Breathing goes hand in hand with the other anxiety management tools that I wrote about. In my case, breathing is very closely tight with meditation as my most frequently practised form is basic breathing meditation.
Breathing is something so simple and natural. We take it for granted and usually don’t pay close attention to it. As we don’t think about blinking or swallowing food. They simply occur from the autonomic nervous system. But it is such a vital part of our being and can be affected by our wellbeing and mood.
When we rush, the breath quickens, when we panic the breath shortens.
‘Just as our feelings, thoughts and emotions influence how we breathe, how we breathe can influence and affect our thoughts and feelings.’
During my last panic attack phase, the anxiety would usually manifest in a form of tight chest, shortness of breath and choking-like sensations.
These kinds of feelings are often symptoms of deep-rooted issues but can be improved and stabilised through breathing exercises.
As I began meditating and focusing on my breathing, my mental health improved. However, recently I became even more interested in further benefits of breathing and various methods.
Loads of information in this article comes from this lovely book. It underlines the amazing positives of conscious breathing and a broad variety of exercises.
This is also where I learnt other additional benefits of breathing.
‘By breathing well and fully we receive generous amounts of oxygen that regenerates our body’s cells, nourishes the brain, replenishes the organs and refuels the muscles with the essential nutrients we need in life.’
The amazing merits of breathing were realised long time ago for instance by ancient yogis who devised a system of deep-breathing practices called pranayama, which translates from Sanskrit as “extension of life energy”.
‘As the breath naturally deepens and softens with mindfulness, the nervous system rebalances, the heart rate drops, the blood pressure lowers and the whole body and mind calm.’
As simple as being aware of your breath can make wonders. There is a lot of science behind the health benefits of mindful breathing and from my personal experience it was the main reason behind becoming calmer and more self-aware.
In the previous article, I talked about how meditation changed me and the way I perceive, think, feel, experience and respond to life. But writing this post made me realise that in my case, meditation and breathing exercises are one and the same. They complete each other perfectly and are not exclusive.
I can’t continue praising the importance of conscious breathing without feeling like I’m rumbling on. After all, it is really “just” breathing!
Plus, there are so many information and experts out there. So if you want to give it a go, it cannot be easier.
Before you blow away
(see what I did there?!), do watch this Tedx Talk by Max Strom who teaches personal transformation, mindfulness, and yoga.
Oh, and if you’d like some visual aid while doing your breathing exercise, this one is very useful.
In the next article, I’ll be talking about other relaxation techniques that are (hopefully) making me a better person.