“Don’t forget to breathe!” “You are holding your breathe.””Take a deep breathe.” All of these reminders about how important it is to breathe. As a therapist, I have learned that among the strategies explored to manage intense emotion, positive and negative because our bodies respond to distress and eustress in the same way, breathing is the most effective and easiest to use.
Yoga instructors teach the importance of breathing as do Lamaze instructors. Thich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese Buddhist monk, says we could spend a year learning about how to breathe and he gives some simple instruction in his book The Art of Mindful Living. In a nutshell when we breathe, consciously choosing to do so, we slow down. We open up the neural pathways in our brains, giving way to greater possibilities by increasing our awareness. When we hold our breathe and allow the adrenal response to rule the day we are operating from the smallest part of our brains, the mid-brain and we have limited options, fight or flight.
Something about this cool, crisp Fall morning is inspiring me breathe, other than the obvious absence oppressive humidity. Being reminded of the gift of the present, I appreciate slowing down, breathing, and in this moment knowing all is well.