“Conscious breathing heightens awareness and deepens relaxation.” – Dan Brule
The other day I walked into a small local store to purchase my monthly vitamins and supplements. Once the door closed behind me, I unconsciously let out a deep sigh. A friendly employee appeared close by and asked, “what was that all about”? Not understanding her question, I replied, “what do you mean”? “That really deep sigh,” she said. “Was a tiger chasing you outside or are you that stressed”? Wow…. That was a wake up call!
When was the last time you were consciously aware of your sighs? When was the last time you were consciously aware of your breathing? When was the last time you were consciously aware of just this very moment? Not concerned about what happened yesterday or this morning and not fearful of what may happen tomorrow or next week? But just conscious of this very moment!
Are headaches, disrupted sleep, inability to focus, or an overall feeling of being unsettled part of your daily routine? Do you often use words or phrases like I’m feeling off, stressed, anxious, or worried?
UCLA Researcher, Natalie Bell reports that stress can cause a whole host of unwanted physical and mental ill effects such as high blood pressure, increased heart rate, headaches, digestive issues, and depression. The big problem we face today is that many of us are living life day to day with stress, may not consciously recognize the symptoms. This includes me as I walked into the store and let out a sigh not even realizing this was taking place.
There is Help
Researcher Bell explains there is a simple and free (yes free, no purchase required) practice that you and I can incorporate into our lives at any time of the day. That’s right ANYTIME and I would add ANYWHERE! This practice is conscious breathing. Stay with me, I know you breathe constantly, and the last thing you want to read is a blog about how you need to breathe! But conscious breathing is different…. And if you haven’t tried it, you are missing out on a big freebie!
Start caring about stimulating your Vagus Nerve
The vagus nerve originates in the brain stem through the neck and extends to the thorax and down to the abdomen. Researchers have come to believe that stimulating this nerve might treat a variety of health conditions like epilepsy, depression, mild headaches, high blood pressure, asthma, strokes, migraines, and inflammatory diseases. You ask, how can I stimulate my Vagus Nerve? You guessed it…conscious breathing!
Practice, Practice, Practice
Conscious breathing can be done in the morning, mid-morning, at red lights, during meetings, in the shower, in the afternoon, in the evening, at bedtime, or anytime or anywhere!
An important note: if you suffer from anxiety or consider yourself a perfectionist, ditch the idea that you need to try harder at this task of breathing to do it right. It really is, just about breathing…… So, Just Breathe!
Try some simple techniques
1. Begin with simply breathing. Breathe in imagining something positive and exhaling whatever it is that you are hanging on to.
One of my favorites: Inhale saying: I am safe, and I am going to be okay
Exhale saying: I let go of _____________
Repeat several times allowing your words and breath to calm you
2. Breathe in slowly counting to 6 and then exhale slowly counting to 6. Keep your focus on counting. If thoughts enter in, no worries…. simply recognize thoughts, let them go and then pick back up counting where you left off!
3. The STOP practice
S – Stop what you are doing
T – Take a few deep, slow breaths in and out
O – Observe how you are feeling in different parts of your body as you are taking slower breaths. Notice the thoughts and emotions going on. Invite calm thoughts in. Ie…. Picture yourself at the beach, the mountains, wherever your calm space is. Continue this practice until you feel calm
P – Proceed with what you were doing
Just Do It
Life is filled with day to day challenges. It’s easy get stuck in a thought pattern focusing on past events or on the uncertainties of the future. As you consider your day today, I hope you will consider conscious breathing and living just in this very moment……What you do and how you live in this very moment will greatly influence your future, your health, and your overall well being!
Remember……..Your life matters!
Need help living your best life regardless of what’s going on in your life and the world around you? Don’t wait, let’s have a conversation!
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