Have you ever been attentive to how you breathe? When you breathe do your shoulders move up and down, does your stomach expand and contract? Does your chest move slightly? How many breaths do you take a minute? Have you ever watched a baby breathe while they sleep?
A natural medicine doctor I visited in Hong Kong many years ago, encouraged me to breathe deeply – in through my nose and out through my mouth, causing my gut to expand with each inhale and to retract with each exhale.
Once I got the hang of it, this process helped my shoulders, stomach, and back muscles to relax. I noticed improved digestion, decreased cravings and emotional eating, and increased lung capacity when exercising.
Taking long, deep, slow breaths also slows the mind. If you’ve practiced Yoga or TaiChi, or meditation in general, you know breathing is important to the meditative process. By slowing our breathing, we slow our mind.
We can enter what Deepak Chopra refers to as ‘slipping into the gap’ that helps us recognize our deepest desires and detach from them so that the universe takes care of the rest.
We can more readily, “let go, let God.”
We can live in the present.
If you’ve every hyper-ventilated or experienced a panic attack, you’ve experienced the benefit of slowing your breathing to your emotional state.
Deep, slow breathing can also help us deeply feel our emotions.
By slowing our breathing and feeling our emotions, we are less prone to judging them as “good” or “bad” and more able to simply accept them for what they are – feelings.
We get to decide how we will honor and respond.
Our thoughts and feelings do not control us. They do, however, offer us the gift of insight. When we slow our breathing and take a moment to exhale, we have the opportunity to listen to the secrets our body, mind, and spirit hold for us – about who we are, what we desire, and how we want to ‘be’ in the world.
Being constantly alert to our breathing can be taxing, especially at the beginning. So, I find moments to exhale – in line at the grocer, at a stoplight, on hold over the telephone, for a few minutes before eating.
Have you been ‘waiting to exhale’? Do you find benefit from long, slow exhales? When do you practice exhaling?