As you read this right now, pay attention to your posture and your breath. We both know you are breathing, but are you Breathing? Breathing, with a capital B, means you take full inhales deep into your belly, so that your diaphragm lowers and your lungs expand. The breath flows easily, usually in and out through your nostrils, and it is this breath that supports whatever activity you are doing. Whether you are sitting in a cozy chair with a cup of coffee reading your favorite book, stuck in your cubicle at work, or maybe even standing at your jerry rigged standing workstation that you constructed to get up off your butt, the question I want you to ask yourself is, are you Breathing?
Most likely, you are realizing your breaths are shallow. It’s your neck muscles involved in breathing, not your diaphragm. And right about now, you are taking some deeper breaths and realizing how good it feels, almost like the first stretch you take in the morning. This isn’t a far-fetched analogy. You are expanding your ribcage in a way that feels good, because it has been dormant for a long time. It feels good to Breathe.
Breathing is a focus of many ancient meditative and healing practices that has largely gone overlooked in the West. One of the first things you can do to improve your health is to Breathe. The breath fuels the rest of your life, it is the basis of everything that you do. Athletes and musicians are just a few people who actively train their breathing capacity so they can pursue their careers. But Breathing is an essential practice for all people, in all situations.
Do you hate your job? Maybe it’s because you aren’t Breathing. Who wouldn’t hate their work, when that work is being fueled by short, anxious breaths that are only relieved when the clock announces it’s 5pm and time to go home? That’s probably when you take a giant sigh of relief, and instantly feel better. If you hate your job, Breathe.
Are you in a frustrating argument with someone you care about? Maybe your frustration is so consuming because you aren’t Breathing. Dealing with a conflicting point of view, someone else’s error, or even their frank rudeness is a lot easier when your breath travels deep down into your chest, into your belly, and smoothly back out your nose. If you are in conflict with another person, Breathe.
Is illness a part of your life? Maybe you have a chronic illness, that seems to flare up at the worst times. Maybe you have an injury that is preventing you from reaching your fitness goals. No matter what it is, Breathe. Take those long, steady breaths in and out, this is when you need them the most.
Your breath is what calms your mind and eases distraction. It connects you mentally and emotionally to the present moment, where your body lives. If you are thinking about making positive changes in your life, or already embarking on that journey, know that conscious deep breathing can help carry you forward.