Breath is defined as an inhalation or exhalation of air from the lungs. Another definition I found for breath is the power of breathing; life.
Thankfully breathing is involuntary. Our respiratory system knows to breath in, breathe out. Our body knows to breathe faster when we work out or exert ourselves to keep the right amount of oxygen flowing through our bodies.
Have you ever noticed when reading a book, watching an intense scene in a movie or t.v. show or just sitting in traffic, you perhaps hold your breath or breathe faster?
It is a physical response to what you are experiencing. But what happens when you find yourself doing this when you aren’t experiencing “a moment”?
Breathing is something I have to be mindful of. I tend to be a shallow breather.
Shallow breathing happens when we breathe through our chest, also called thoracic breathing, instead of through our diaphragm. Our diaphragm should expand and contract with each breath instead of our chest and shoulders rising and falling. Mouth breathing can be in this category too since it results in less air entering our lungs.
When we shallow breathe our bodies automatically prepare for activity or response.
Long term shallow breathing can lead to many health issues including panic attacks, fatigue, dry mouth and even cardiovascular issues.
According to an article I read recently at headspace.com shallow breathing can lead to pains in our shoulders and necks and headaches.
Benefits of correct breathing…
Correct breathing, diaphragmatic breathing, can ground us by lowering our heart rate and blood pressure. Both of these automatically relax the body and can increase our energy.
Our Mindfulness Challenge
Our mindfulness challenge this week is to be aware of our breathing. Are we filling our lungs or are we holding our breath or taking short, shallow breaths?
Place your hand on your diaphragm. It is located above your belly button and just below your rib cage. When you inhale/exhale does it expand and contract? Or do your shoulders and chest rise and fall?
If our diaphragm isn’t contracting and expanding our lungs aren’t completely full and the rest of our body is paying the price.
Now that you are aware of correct breathing take note of how you breathe around different people or in different situations, i.e. traffic, your boss, your spouse, the grocery store.
Have a great week and happy breathing.