It's magical, isn't it?
In and out. In and out. It's our bodies' most automatic process and function. To breathe is to live. One of the ways we say someone is dead is that they are "without breath."
In and out. In and out. We draw in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide. The air we breathe is the starting point for everything else. Without oxygen our heart could not pump, our blood would be useless to our organs, we would die in minutes.
In and out. In and out. A rhythm as constant as the waves in the sea. Most of the time we don't even think about it, unless we are engaged in a physical activity which makes us breathless; unless we have to hold our breath underwater; unless we are a musician playing a wind instrument or a singer.
In and out. In and out.
You're thinking about it now though, aren't you?
How is your breathing? Where is your breath going?
Most of us don't breathe correctly. We fill only the top quarter of our lungs. We use our chest and shoulders to power the breath rather than our diaphragm.
If you can, right now, sit up straight. Even better – stand up straight. Balance yourself with your shoulders slightly back, your spine naturally curved and your jaw parallel to the floor. Imagine you are being pulled upright by a thread attached to the crown of your head. Now, without moving your shoulders or chest, pull that breath into your lungs from the top part of your stomach, just below your sternum.
Breathe as deeply as you can; gently, without straining. Pause for a moment and then, just as gently, let it out. It may help to breathe in for a count of four, hold for a count of two and then let the breath go for a count of four. Breathe in through your nose. Breathe out through your mouth.
Repeat five times.
Now notice how you feel.
I'm not going to tell you what you "should" feel; it's different for everyone. I know that I feel more peaceful, less anxious, more centred and stable.
This breathing exercise helps me so much, I have installed a free app on my phone: "Calm" (it has a blue icon with the word Calm across it). Calm has a variety of functions, but if you go into the Meditate page, there is an option called Breathe, which provides – against a background of nature sounds – a guide for breathing.
I use it at night when I can't sleep, or during the day if I start to feel overwhelmed, or sometimes, just as a background to my own meditation – because I'm not very good at following guided spoken meditations.
Considering that breathing is vital to our continued existence, it's worth getting it right every now and then.
In and out. In and out, In and out.
And – because, yes – you've got that ear-worm, haven't you? http://bit.ly/2z2jCOG
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