Friday, March 16, 2012

Remember to breathe

"Remember to breathe,” he told me. At the time I thought it was a silly thing to say. Of course, I remember to breathe. Don’t we just do that automatically? Why would I have to “remember”?

That was more than a decade ago. I have since learned how important our breathing is to living well. That sounds obvious, doesn’t it? But I’m talking here about breathing deeply.

Have you ever found yourself so tense and anxious that your breathing was extremely shallow? You just can’t seem to get your breath. When your life gets chaotic and overly busy, or when you’re filled with fear and anxiety, it’s common to take shallow breaths. And I’ve heard it said that “shallow breathing makes for shallow living.” How deeply we breathe really does affect us emotionally and physically. When we breathe deeply, we are able to fire on all cylinders (a phrase that means “working at full strength” and “operating as powerfully and effectively as possible”).

Try it now
I invite you to stop for a moment now. Inhale as slowly and deeply as you can, allowing your tummy to expand. Hold it a few seconds. Slowly exhale, making sure to get out as much air as you can. Repeat this several times. How does that feel? Doesn’t that open you up inside?

I find it helpful to take time in a busy day to do a few deep-breathing exercises. Sometimes I add a mantra. For example, as I inhale deeply, I might say, “I breathe in peace;” and as I exhale, I say, “I breathe out fears.”

See if this doesn’t make a difference as you try to live more in joy and less out of fear. Give your body all the air it needs.

As my former colleague said, “Remember to breathe!”

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