When was the last time you took a deep, conscious breath? Today? Yesterday? Don’t remember? Stop right here and take one now…. a slow, deep breath in…and a slow, full breath out…do you feel the difference?
Power of the breath
It’s easy to just forget that we are breathing. It happens automatically whether we are aware of it or not, and as with many of the functions that our bodies just take care of by themselves, we often don’t pay much attention to or indeed appreciate our breath very much. And with our bodies doing all the work for us, it is fair to say that this most vital function is widely under-used and under-rated. Even during intense exercise we only utilise about 70% of our lungs’ full capacity! The ancient shamans, yogis and energy masters of the East have long understood and utilised the power of the breath for meditation, to enhance and manipulate energetic states, journey through consciousness and as a medicine to heal body, mind and spirit. Breathing connects our inner experience with the outer environment and acts as a bridge between the conscious and subconscious. It generates what is referred to as Prana or Chi (Qi) - an electro-magnetic energy which is our life force. The quality of this energy and its flow through our bodies is directly connected to the quality of our physical, mental and emotional health, and the subject of many different forms of energy medicine. By cultivating our breath more consciously we can begin to harness the gifts of this energetic connection between ourselves and the cosmos, allowing us to go deeper within and activate our innate healing powers and full life potential. On a physiological level, we can use our breath to regulate the nervous system. During stressful situations, when the sympathetic nervous system is active (the so-called fight-flight or freeze response), deep conscious breathing helps activate the parasympathetic response (rest and relax) which calms us down and allows our bodies’ functions, such as heart rate and digestion, to return to normal.
Ability to breathe
As babies our breathing is free and unrestricted. We know instinctively how to breathe with ease and we switch naturally between the sympathetic and parasympathetic states. Babies freely express their needs for food, care and attention by crying, fully trusting that their need will be met by their caretaker. During the course of our lives we lose our natural ability to breathe fully. As we grow older, we increasingly experience rejection, disapproval and punishment for this free expression of our needs and emotions, our nervous systems become overwhelmed and as a consequence we learn to control ourselves, slowly shutting down our full range of feelings and unconsciously tensing up inside. We may also encounter trauma throughout our lives, leading to further tension, fear, numbness and repressed memories and emotions that become imprinted within our bodies and psyche. These deep holding patterns affect our ability to breathe fully, so by the time we are adults, many of us have settled into short and shallow breathing, using just a small part of our full breathing capacity and restricting the free flow of energy through our bodies. By paying more attention to our breath and learning to use the breath consciously we can restore our vitality and energy levels and even release trauma from our bodies. Conscious breathing is one of the easiest and quickest ways to regenerate all our systems, open our hearts and find inner peace – and, best of all, it is available to us freely at any time. So why not make better use of this potent medicine?
The BioDynamic Breath & Trauma Release System (BBTRS) is a powerful tool for releasing trauma and tension through breath and many people experience truly life-changing shifts in their emotional, psychological and physical well-being through this technique. Find out more about BBTRS and how to start your own breath healing journey!
In the meantime, there are plenty of simple breathing exercises you can practise on your own, at any time, to experience the power of your breath and breathe yourself towards a place of greater freedom, peace and vitality.
Why not give this a try right now with the Vital Breath exercise, and experience for yourself what a difference this will make in your day!
Nisarga Eryk Dobosz BCST , MSc.