Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Conscious Breathing

It’s time to focus on breathing again…

Breathing is essential to life, yet it often the most neglected aspect of any physical training program. The simple fact is that breathing is the fundamental aspect of our physical body. It is a continuous rhythm that runs throughout our whole life. The body can go for days, even weeks without food. It is able to survive two or three days without water. But it is virtually impossible to go without breathing for more than a few minutes. Without fresh oxygen to the brain the bodily systems quickly shut down and we die. Breathing is natural, and automatic, something we rarely tak e the time to notice, unless we are winded from a burst of exercise or emotional stimulation. This is fine for most people for much of their lives, since the body was created to work efficiently without having to pay attention to breathing. 

This normal, everyday breathing can be defined as subsistence breathing. The amount of oxygen taken in during subsistence breathing is sufficient for everyday life. It brings just enough oxygen into the body to keep it functioning. Imagine a subsistence farmer who works the land and scrapes just enough food together to feed his family. Quite possibly he can continue this way for many years. His existence, though meager, seems sufficient. But, what if there is an unforseen disaster, which affects his ability to continue, such as a prolonged drought, flooding, or an early frost? If the farmer has not stored up his reserves, then simple survival may be almost impossible. The same goes for breathing. Subsistence breathing, though meager, is adequate as long as the body is healthy and active. But what happens if there is an accident, sickness, or trauma? Without an excess of stored energy, there are no reserves to tap into when needed. It becomes difficult for the body to repair itself.

Conscious breathing is the process of becoming aware of the body’s inhalation and exhalation of air. Nearly four thousand years ago in ancient China and India people understood that becoming conscious of the body as it is breathing is the key to a long, healthy life. Just the action of noticing the breath brings our awareness to it and increases its quality. One of the most common themes in the teachings offered by spiritual leaders is the principle of internal cleansing, getting rid of that which is old, worn out, and stale, and exchanging it for what is new, fresh, and energized. That, of course, is the central principle of conscious breathing as well. During inhalation we are bringing in fresh oxygen, nutrients, and vital energy. During exhalation we are expelling carbon dioxide and other toxins and poisons that we produce or collect in our daily living.

Give yourself a few moments every day to take a few long, deep breaths. Stay focused on that moment and enjoy!

wishing you much peace,

If you want to learn more about breathing try Breathe Smart.

1 comment:

Barbara said...

Thanks for this gift Aaron.I feel wonderful, of course, after stopping for a few minutes at work to breathe consciously. It is such a simple and easy way to feel good anytime, anywhere.

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