February 24, 2014 (From “One Moment Shifts,” a monthly email for spreading joy, peace, happiness, and well-being. The topics and messages in One Moment Shifts aim to guide small changes, or shifts, in perception that can ease the strain, pain and suffering we endure every day. ) “Catch Your Breath” Over the past week I have had many reminders about the importance of the breath. The breath holds so much valuable information, yet we tend to skip right over it and miss out on a lot of really important cues and clues. Our breath tells us how we’re doing physically, mentally, emotionally, and helps guide us to know if we’re making decisions that are right for us. Before you read any further, take just a couple seconds to notice how you’re breathing in this moment. Is your breath fast? slow? rushed? deep? shallow? Now notice how you are feeling. Chances are your breath and your emotions match up. Can you slow your breath down? Perhaps soften and lengthen your breath? After a few breaths, have your emotions shifted, even slightly?
Our brain is very much connected with our breath. How we are breathing sends signals to our brain that then tells our body how to be. For instance, if I’m breathing shallow and constricted, chances are my brain is getting the message that I am stressed, which then tells my body to tense up (think mini “fight, flight or freeze”). If my breath is slow, calm, and deep chances are my brain is getting the message that I can relax, I am safe, I feel supported, which in turns leads to a calm, relaxed state of being. When we are relaxed, we can think more clearly and when we are stressed our brain has a hard time accessing stored information and taking in new information.
We can control our breath more than any other physiological process. Choose to take a few minutes each day, several times per day, to check in with your breath. “Catch your breath,” and choose to breathe slow, deep, taking in calming energy and relaxing on the exhales. (And then, wa-la! You’ve meditated! Bonus!) Our breath is also connected with our natural knowing (aka intuitive voice). When we are trying to make a hard decision, and our intuitive voice seems to not be “speaking” to us, check in with your breath! When you think about that decision, do you feel your breath and body coming inward, tightening, your body and breath constricting? Or do you feel your body open up, your posture becomes tall and dignified, and your breathing is full and easy? My guess is this is clear; if you find yourself opening, brightening and your breath becomes deep and expansive, chances are your natural knowing is telling you that’s the way to go.
Over the next several days (weeks, months), try to “catch your breath” throughout the day. There’s information there you may be missing!