It took me quite a while to realise how helpful taking slow paced, deep breaths was for restoring my balance … mind, body and energy.
If you are looking to reduce the tension in your body and come back to being more open and present… then taking a few slow deep breaths is a simple way to feel more at ease. It is natural, free and is always there.
Slow, deep breathing is an effective way to reverse the symptoms of the “flight-fight-and freeze” response that occurs when we perceive some form of threat to our safety. It activates what is called our parasympathetic nervous system, the body’s “brake response” which reverses the accumulated stress symptoms. Deep, slow breathing immediately slows down the heart rate and creates a calming effect.
The benefits of a regular practice of simple deep breathing is well documented, including: decreased anxiety and depression, increased energy levels, muscle relaxation, improved sleep, strengthened ability to regulate emotions and mood and decreased feelings of stress. Sounds compelling, doesn’t it?
A simple practice to start with is called “Breath 4-2-5”. I learnt this technique while working with my colleague, Dr John Wood, who brings applications of mindfulness to leadership. It is a wonderful pause, relax and open when you find yourself in the “grip” of a stress response.
Start by sitting comfortably and close your eyes. Put your attention to your feet. As you inhale slowly through your nose, imagine you are drawing your breath up from your feet to the top of your head. As you do this, count to four. Pause at the top of your head, holding your breath for a count of two. Exhale slowly through your mouth for a count of five, taking your awareness down your body and back to your feet. Repeat this 4-2-5 rhythm for a few breaths or until you feel more relaxed and open. This is particularly effective to do when you feel stressed or tense during your day. Remember it is a simple equation of four-two-five beats.
There are many different breathing techniques available such as alternate nostril for anxiety, ocean’s breath for cooling your mind when you are angry or irritated and energising breath for when you are feeling sluggish. If you want to discover more, visit The Chopra Centre (www.chopra.com)
If you are living in Australia, the Life Flow Meditation Centre in Adelaide offers a range of classes and retreats using mindfulness practice and effective techniques that are designed for you to take a break from stress, let your body restore itself. www.lifeflow.com.au
Internationally recognised meditation teacher, author and corporate trainer, Davidji offers guided meditations on his site. After a twenty-year career in business and finance, David made a lifestyle change to live what he calls a “life of wholeness”. He has a wonderful voice with deep timbre that invites you to let go, come back to the moment and find yourself in the stillness. His book, Secrets of Meditation: A Practical Guide to Inner Peace & Personal Transformation, offers practical ways for stress release and mindfulness. www.davidji.com
For breath is life, and if you breathe well you will live long on earth.