Change Your Life with Just Three Deep Breaths
Western society has taught us to suck in our gut and push out our chest when we take a deep breath. Studies have shown that “chest breathing” stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, the part of the nervous system that’s active in a fight-or-flight situation. While appropriate in times of danger, chest breathing actually prevents a person from relaxing.
Abdominal breathing, on the contrary, causes a shift into the parasympathetic nervous system, the part of the nervous system that is dominant in times of safety and relaxation. The practice of abdominal breathing promotes lower blood pressure, decreased anxiety and improved focus.
To practice abdominal breathing, one must relax the shoulders and take a slow, deep breath. Keep the shoulders relaxed while consciously sticking out the belly in order to inhale from the diaphragm. Hold the breath to the count of four, then slowly exhale. Practice in front of a mirror with hands lightly resting on the lower abdomen. If breathing correctly, the abdomen will protrude and hands will be pushed out, but the chest and shoulders will not move.
Even if life is too busy to spend long periods of time in meditation, everyone has time to take a couple of slow, deep breaths. It is recommended to get in the habit of taking three abdominal breaths at the start of every hour. This simple practice can make one feel better and be much more able to cope with whatever life brings.
Jeri Mills is a physician, certified clinical hypnotherapist, intuitive healer, author, speaker and owner of Integrative Hypnotherapy, in Tucson. Connect at 520-395-0340,
[email protected] or JeriMillsMD.com.