I have trouble breathing.
Now, you don’t need to be concerned about me. I am not ill and I can get through day to day just fine.
What I mean is, I do not breathe well.
Over the course of my “self care” journey, I have done a bit of research in mindfulness practices and implemented a number of them. Some practices were helpful for a short time, others have become a part of my daily/weekly routine. One of the practices that has stuck is being aware of my breathing.
Since I was a kid and played the trumpet throughout middle and high school, I have known I am a shallow breather. I never fully understood how to breathe deep enough (from your diaphragm) to hold notes longer than four measures… on a good day.
As I have recently started taking up running, one of the main frustrations I have is figuring out how to breathe in rhythm with my steps and not get anxious when I am hitting the end of my stamina.
One of the most exasperating realizations I have had in my breathing awareness is that I actually stop breathing when I get stressed, anxious or let fear overwhelm. I have caught myself holding my breath! This happens more often than I care to admit.
Suffice it to say, now that I pay attention to my breathing patterns, I realize how lax I have been in practicing healthy breathing. It may seem boring to think about this, but the reality is we cannot exist without this ability! I think that makes paying a bit more attention to our breathing habits something to add to the “must do” list.
“When you open to the actual sensations of breathing, is it really so tedious? Isn’t it rather remarkable and wonderful that we are kept alive in each moment through this mysterious process of inhalation and exhalation, of oxygenation and blood pumping, of the air reaching all the cells of the body? Isn’t it amazing that there’s air to breathe, a body to take it in, and a mind to watch it? Each moment we’re interested in the process of breathing, we are training ourselves in curiosity.” (Halliwell, 2014) **
Note: We will get back to curiosity in another post very soon.
For now, take a few moments to notice your breathing. Breathe normally for a few minutes and then breathe deeply – in and out, in and out. You always feel better after you breathe deeply.
As you pay attention to your breath- in through your nose and out through your mouth – you are practicing mindfulness. You are taking a step away from the busyness of life and checking in with yourself, focusing on an actual “must do” rather than what is weighing on you.
Included below are resources to help you dive a bit deeper into creating space to breathe and capture the wonder of this not-so-tedious ability.
Don’t forget to breathe.
Helpful Mindfulness-related Apps: The popular “Calm” app; Stop, Breathe & Think & my favorite “LiveFromRest”.
Guided Breathing Practice: https://www.mindful.org/an-11-minute-awareness-of-breath-practice/
Helpful Article **: https://www.mindful.org/6-reasons-why-mindfulness-begins-with-the-breath/