It’s something that we all do, something that we HAVE to do, and we do it instinctively. But most of us take it for granted. And like many things we take for granted, we don’t give it much thought. However, being mindful of how we breathe can be VERY powerful.
Our ‘fight or flight’ response plays an important part in our survival but if we let it take over when it’s not needed it can cause undue anxiety. If we’re being chased by an aggressive dog, we most definitely want our ‘flight’ response to kick in and run. Being overly anxious in some cases though can make us feel physically ill.
Take, for example, we have an interview for a new job or an appointment at the dentist. In both instances our body will be preparing for something that causes us concern. Instead of slowing our breathing a little, we do the opposite and tense up. Tensing up causes our muscles to tighten and our breath to shorten. In turn, we become even tenser. That’s not helpful at all!!
So here’s a simple breathing technique that can be used at any time and especially if you’re about to embark on something that you know will cause anxiety. All you need is a little imagination and to know where some of your body parts are! I suggest you do this seated with your feet flat on the floor, with your back straight and your hands resting in your lap. Close your eyes if it feels comfortable.
Here we go:
- As you breathe in, imagine your breath travelling up to the top of your head
- As you breathe out, imagine the breath travelling all the way down through your spine and finishing at the base of your spine, at your sitting bones
- Breathe at a slow comfortable pace
- Breathe in and let the breath travel all the way up to the top of your head
- Breathe out and let the breath travel all the way down to the base of your spine
Try this about 10 times in total
This practice can encourage calmness and serenity.
So next time you feel yourself start to tense up, try some mindful breathing.