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The Magic of Breathing

As I approach my grand daughter, I hear her crying. She fell again and her knee is scraped. I pick her up and through her tears she repeats, "it hurts!" I hold her tight and carry her to the chair so I can get a better look at her knee. It's a small scratch, but the appearance of blood bothers her more than the pain. As I wipe her tears, I look into her eyes and tell her to "breathe." Then I start to breathe in and out and she starts to do the same. After a couple of deep breathes, the tears stop and we hug.

At an early age, I taught my grand daughters to "breathe" when they are in a stressful situation. That situation can include a physical injury, a doctor visit, or getting upset or feeling anxious for any reason. Since children learn best by making it a fun experience, I taught them the "starfish" pose that includes physical posture along with breathing. After we practiced that several times, they both learned what breathing can do for them at any time.

I understand the importance of breathing because I am a "breath holder." Being a "breath holder" means anytime I'm nervous, or stressed out, I hold my breath without realizing it. Not until I had my kids did I realize how important it is to take deep breaths (woman - you know what I mean!). But I still had a tendency to hold my breath as I aged. A few years ago I started taking horse riding lessons. My dear friend who was giving me the lessons could see it across the arena and I would hear "breathe!". I would then relax and all of a sudden the horse would move with me instead of against me.

Studies show that breathing can help you through some of the toughest situations. Breathing can help mental focus, reduce physical pain, control anxiety, calm anger, calm the mind, and help in healing, just to name a few.

Just like everything else, learning how to consciously focus on your breath can be a challenge. Breathing is a natural autonomic function; however, it can be the furthest thing from our mind as a self-care tool.

Are you not sure where you should start? There are some tips that I have used that have helped me to learn to make my breathing a priority and assist when needed.

  • Set an intention on what you need the outcome to be (relaxation, calmness, pain relief, etc.)

  • Get yourself as comfortable as possible

  • Focus on how you are breathing - nose or mouth?

  • Observe your breathing at the moment

  • Listen to what your body is telling you (is your body starting to relax?)

  • As you're breathing, focus on the breaths you are taking and listen to the air go into your lungs and move out

Try different approaches so you can find out what works for you. Everyone is different. Remember - YOU DO YOU NATURALLY BY DESIGN!

Focusing on your breath can be helpful in many ways. I am not a medical professional and the information in this article is meant to assist in self-care. If you are experiencing shortness of breath or a feeling of not getting enough air, it is important to check with your physician or call emergency services.

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