“Breathe, feel the energy inside your body, look around at the sky, the trees. The mind might tell you, ‘I don’t have time.’ But that’s the mind talking to you. Even the busiest person has time for 30 seconds of space.” ~ Eckhart Tolle
As human beings, you would think that one of life’s most natural processes would be breathing. At birth, it’s one of the first things the doctor ensures we’re capable of doing on our own. Yet sometimes, I find myself rushing through my day, and saying out loud, “I haven’t had a moment to catch my breath!”
But there is a difference between catching your breath, and learning to breathe. According to Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar in his book, Choose the Life You Want: 101 Ways to Create Your Road to Happiness, shallow breathing is a reaction to the unyielding stress of modern life. Furthermore, a continued pattern of shallow breathing can create a downward spiral of more shallow breathing and stress. So how does one get break this bad habit?
Just breathe…it’s that simple. It’s truly a gift you give yourself. By taking three deep belly breaths in the midst of your daily life–while you’re driving, before getting out of bed, before going to sleep–you can start an upward spiral of deep breathing and tranquility. And it’s yours, free for the taking!
The three-deep-breaths technique has been scientifically proven to shift our bodies from “fight-or-flight” response to one of relaxation. First, take a deep belly breath, taking in oxygen slowly and deeply, fully expanding your stomach as you do so, and then slowly exhaling. At the same time, focus only on the present moment. Second, take another deep belly breath similar to the first, only this time focus on your purpose—either for the day or for a goal you have in mind. Finally, take the third deep belly breath, honing your focus on something for which you are grateful. This completes the trifecta of deep breaths but in the short course of this bodywork, you have found time to be in the here and now, plan for the future and practice gratitude.
When you couple the physiological act of breathing with the cognitive component of focusing on something positive, you create awareness and a sense of calm, both which powerfully impact the way you feel. Practice breathing many times a day, and be mindful of the correlation of serenity and joy it brings.