Lessons in Mindfulness in Regard to the Breath
What are we doing automatically every day? We are breathing! Every minute we are taking in oxygen and expelling carbon dioxide with incredible regularity. The act of breathing is a miracle, and it is the driver of life. In fact, life is possible because of the breath, Therefore, each day we should ponder and reflect upon the words of many ancient and modern teachers who have given us wisdom on the subject of “the breath.” Although they have stated it in different ways, it basically boils down to this: “life is the breath, and the breath is the life, without it, you die. “Therefore, we must remember to breathe
It is true that we are all breathing continuously each and every day. But have you ever considered or contemplated how you are breathing? Believe it or not, there are both good and bad ways to breathe. Far too often, we tend to breathe to fast and shallow as we experience the challenges of our day. This leads to stress, headaches, body aches, tension, fatigue, and emotional outbursts! We are all prone to this, especially in western culture. However, there is good news where our breathing is concerned. We can learn to govern our breathing through the practice of breath regulation exercises which are designed to help us slow and pace our breaths.
The following is some information that we believe will be beneficial to you if you would like to become experienced in controlling your breath. As always, we share this list with you as a service, and not as the authoritative word on the subject. So, we encourage you to consider the information provided, and study more about breath regulations on your own. IF you are interested, seek out people you trust to help you develop the discipline of breath regulations so you can apply it in your life. If you do so, you may find that it will increase your health and fitness as you breathe easier!
This information was collected from various research and studies on breathing:
Effects of shallow breathing-
- Impairs thinking
Oxygen intake is reduced. The circulation of oxygen is limited thus reducing the amount provided throughout the body with no special delivery received by the brain.
- Disrupts the balance between oxygen and carbon dioxide
The lungs must take in an ample amount of oxygen to provide every cell in the body with oxygen balance the carbon dioxide. This imbalance creates what is known as oxidative stress which is damaging to muscle fibers in the body, especially those of the heart.
- Increases blood pressure and heart rate
Shallow breathing is in the chest with shoulders rising a result of the pressures and stress of daily life. It is hard to imagine that the breath could control the circulation of blood through the body. But it does. Breath in—blood is sucked into the lungs. Breath out – oxygenated blood is pushed through the heart and out into the body. Fast and short is not efficient and causes pressures to increase along with the heart rate.
- Prevents utilizing the diaphragm and abdominal muscles
As with any other muscles in the body the diaphragmic and abdominal muscles need to be worked to remain healthy and strong. Shallow breathing allows weakness to slip in then one can become easily winded during physical activities.
- Causes sleep issues
Shallow breathing fails to trigger relaxation hormones in the body because the diaphragm is unable to sufficiently stimulate the vague nerve.
- Psychological difficulties
Shallow breathing creates a fight or flight feeling by increasing levels of cortisol.
The benefits of deep breathing
- Creates a better balance between oxygen and carbon dioxide thus reducing risk of hypertension, myocardial infarction, and stroke. Deep inhalation provides for a deep exhalation to remove carbon dioxide.
- Increased exercise of diaphragm and abdominal muscles in turn stimulates the vagus nerve providing the ability to relax.
- Lowers cortisol levels. Cortisol is able to affect nearly every organ system in the body. It mediates the stress response, and regulates metabolism, inflammation, and the function of the immune system.
The evidence supports the practice of deep breathing which is offered through qigong, yoga, meditations, and many other breathing exercises that will help deep breathing become a daily practice requiring very little thought.
“If you don’t inhale deep enough, your exhale is short-lived.”
“Work on the inhale, the exhale will take care of itself.”
“For breath is life, so if you breathe well, you will live long on earth.” –Sanskrit Proverb
“Breath is the link between mind and body.” –Dan Brule
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Enjoy the learning!
Be Fit, Be Strong, Stay Alive!