We usually think of breathing as a source of physical life, and it certainly is that. But breathing can also impact our emotional life in a positive way.
Taking long, slow, full breaths is a way of calming down and lightening up. You will notice that when you feel anxious your breathing becomes rapid and shallow. Adjust your breathing to adjust your feelings.
Another way of using breath to feel better is to simply be aware of it. Hold your attention on your breathing as you breathe in and out. Notice the physical sensations of your breath as it flows in and flows out through your nose or mouth. Stay present with your breathing. This is called “Conscious Breathing”.
To maximize the positive emotional benefits of Conscious Breathing, keep your attention focused on your breath as described in the paragraph above for at least 3 – 5 minutes at a time. Notice your thoughts while you practice this. If your thoughts begin to wander and you lose your focus on the physical sensations of your breathing, let go of the thought and bring your attention right back. The goal is to remain completely aware of your breath in the present moment.
In addition to calming you down and bringing you inner peace, this practice trains the mind. If you struggle with a scattered attention, this practice can help. If you struggle with a busy, buzzing mind that just won’t stop, the practice of Conscious Breathing can gradually help you to reign in your mind and gain control of your attention.
Try Conscious Breathing the next time that you feel anxious or worried. By focusing your attention on your breathing you disengage your mind from the thinking that is causing you to feel insecure. This is a good thing, because when we feel insecure our ability to actually solve our problems is compromised.
Worrying and problem-solving are not the same. Your mind functions far more constructively when you feel calm, relaxed and confident than when you feel nervous, tense and insecure. In addition to this, the quality of your life improves as you experience more inner peace.
Inner peace is the “seed” of happiness. We usually think that we need this or that to happen in our outer world for us to feel happier. We might think we need more money or for our kids to behave a certain way for us to feel happier. But the truth is that happiness does not come from outer circumstances. It springs from an internal state of inner peace.
Here is one final exercise for using breathing to improve the quality of your life:
- Become aware of your breathing.
- Begin breathing gently and deeply, without causing yourself any strain or dizziness.
- As you inhale, imagine that you are breathing in the energy of inner peace and happiness.
- As you exhale, imagine the feelings of inner peace and happiness spreading throughout your body.
- Continue this exercise for 3 – 5 minutes, and even longer if you like.
Did you find this post helpful? Does it raise any questions for you? Please feel welcome to share your questions, and to share your experiences of the practices and exercises with us.
By Bob Lancer, Motivational Speaker and Author