It is not uncommon to think that our mind (which is a functional result of our brain) is different from our body. However, the mind-body connection is something real and I feel it is essential to explore this connection through our own experiences. This article is aimed at bringing you some facts on different patterns of our breathing and their direct relationship with our physical and emotional health.
Is breathing merely a physiological process? If you think so, I invite you to observe your breath when you’re angry, sad, anxious and joyful. You might observe a clear difference in the way you breath experiencing the fore-mentioned emotions. Each emotion creates a unique, significant pattern of sensations in the body. For example, if you’re angry, your breath is moderately deeper with a faster rate. Instead, if you’re anxious, your breath is shallow with a faster rate.
If you agree with what being said so far, the next question you might ask yourself if this mind-body relationship is uni-directional (i.e., mind -> body) or bi-directional (i.e., mind <-> body). In other words, can we alter our emotional state simply by regulating the way we breath? The short answer is, yes.
Everyone of us wants to be happy, joyful. However, we often do not find the ‘right’ ways to achieve that state of mind. If we learn to inhale and exhale slowly and deeply and maintain a regular breath with your ribcage quite relaxed, we are not far away from happiness.
Here are my 2 cents for the beginners:
- Whenever you find free time, take a pen and a paper and you may gently ask yourself: “How am I breathing now?”. It is important you do not judge the breathing. Just be completely honest yourself and be willing to accept your breathing the way it is, in the very moment. Write a few words about it such as “shallow”, or “deep”, “heavy breathing”, or “irregular breathing”. I’m not asking you to be obsessed with your breathing but try to periodically check your breathing just the way you’re checking your dog or the notifications on your smartphone.
- In the beginning, you might feel unpleasant sensations. You might feel a lot of anxiety observing your breath. Your mind might send out a warning signal as if you’re in danger. But this is only temporary. As you stay diligent in your practice, your mind will get adjusted to this new practice.
- Whenever you feel intense emotions, go back to your breath and sit with it. “Sitting with it” implies observing your breath as it is without any judgments and if possible, with a lot of compassion and love for yourself.