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How Breath Makes Your Brain Work for You

Breath

In the last installment, we talked about the effects of gratitude.  This installment will address something much more basic and natural to all living creatures.  We all breathe and we all know what happens when we stop breathing.Not surprisingly, most of us have found ourselves at least in one situation where we were feeling anxious, angry, or stressed to the point that someone around us had to instruct us to “take a breath.”   We have known about the power of mindful breathing from the beginning of time.  It has become the basis for different forms of meditation in both Western and Eastern spiritual traditions.  We commonly tell each other to “take a breath” when we try to help each other relax.  But, what many people do not consciously realize is that focusing your attention on your breath is the one most effective thing for relaxation.So, while the basic instruction to staying alive is to “keep breathing,” the basic instruction to keeping calm is to “keep focusing on your breath.”How about just trying it right now?  Here is the very simple way to do it:


  •  Slowly, draw in a breath, and notice your lungs and belly filling with air.
  • Slowly, let the breath out and notice the release that happens in your body.
  • Repeat over and over again.

(Some people find it helpful to count while drawing the breath in and out.  Try counting to 4 while drawing the breath in, and to 4 again on the way out.)

When you focus your attention on your breath, you take your attention off your anger, fear, stress, and worry.  You become one with the perfection of the present moment.

Moreover, ( very simplistically stating,)  the more you practice mindful or conscious breathing, the more you strengthen those “relaxed” pathways in the brain.  In other words, the more you practice this technique the more you train your brain to respond with calm to stress.

Do it for just a few minutes in the morning, and then stop and do it a few times a day, especially when things get a little much for you.  Let me know what you noticed and have fun breathing!

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