Take a deep breath with me. Yes, go on… in… and out… It feels good, doesn’t it?!
A healthy body requires discipline and focus. And it all starts with our breath – the most fundamental piece of being alive. We can surely survive without food for several weeks, as we can see by the trending “fasting movement” that’s growing by the minute, but that’s a whole nother topic on its own. We can also survive without water for days, as we can also see by the dry fast movement. But when it comes to our breath, we couldn’t survive more than a few minutes without it. Talk about essentials!
When we take a deep breath, our nervous system relaxes and receives the message that we are safe in our environment. Our society has been in a state of chronic stress for way too long and it shows by the growing number of chronic diseases and illnesses. We hold our breath when we are stressed, sending a signal to our nervous system that there is a threat in our immediate environment, so our brain releases stress hormones putting ourselves into a fight or flight mode. And that’s great for survival, if there is a lion right in front of you ready to attack! However, what is stressing us in our modern world is more often than not, our own thoughts!
I’ve noticed in my own life how I always used to hold my breath because I was so anxious thinking about possible undesirable scenarios. Especially when I would feel pressured financially. Growing up amidst an intense lack and scarcity mindset has created a dysfunctional conditioning in my mind that there’s not enough for everyone. And I’m sure a lot of people can relate to this since collectively there is a humongous poverty mindset ruling our planet today.
Once I learned to become aware of my breath, I started to practice breathing exercises that were a fundamental piece of my reprogramming of those old conditionings into a mind that lives in abundance and gratitude. Self-awareness of how we are breathing is one of the most simple and yet, powerful and efficient ways to deal with stress. If you feel an anxiety attack coming up, you can bring your awareness to your breath and slow down the pace of how you’re breathing, and you will shortly notice how you release your muscles and feel a calm feeling take over.
The data shows that we literally can’t think clearly in a state of chronic stress due to the lack of blood going to our brain. When our sympathetic nervous system is activated, heartbeat and respiration rate increase to provide the body with the energy and oxygen needed to fuel a rapid response to danger, all our blood goes to our arms and legs and muscles tense up and become primed for action preparing the body to fight or to flee. Consequently, we are unable to make intelligent decisions in a state of stress since we are not thinking properly.
We can’t really be open to change in a state of fear. We are closed to the world when we are unable to breathe deeply and relax. There is a lot of focus on our problems when we are in a state of stress. I’ve noticed that when we are finally able to relax, we are able to see a different perspective on our problems, and we might even think to ourselves – “how come I didn’t think of this before?” It’s because we are too close minded when in a state of fear and stress and can’t really see a different perspective on anything.
The 5 x 5 x 5 Breathing
This is one of the simplest breathing exercises I know. It is called 5x5x5 because you just count to 5 as you inhale, count to 5 as you hold the breath, and then count to 5 as you exhale. Do it at least a couple of times a day in sets of 5. So very, very, simple.
You can let the air out through your nose or through your mouth. It doesn’t matter. The point is, when you take your time to breathe in and hold it for a bit, and then take your time letting it out, that is a really clear signal telling your nervous system that within your immediate environment, You Are Safe.
How do we overcome the stress in our environment?
With the use of this breathing exercise everyday, we are able to relax our body enough that our system can let things go back to normal, to growth and repair mode. I also recommend this exercise especially if you are dealing with anxiety. If you feel that some anxiety is starting to bubble up, you can use this exercise in almost any situation. And as you do the exercise, I would recommend that you become aware of what the anxiety is about, and really invite in that self-awareness of what it is that’s triggering this anxiety within you.
Sometimes we tend to just go through the motions throughout the day, not really acknowledging what are the things/people/situations that are triggering feelings, emotions and reactions within us. First comes the acknowledgement of triggers, then the understanding of what that is all about, which develops into self-awareness and… Freedom, my friend. Be aware to avoid blaming, it will get you nowhere! Not blaming anything outside of you or either yourself for what is coming up, is one of the most powerful things you can do on your self-awareness journey. What’s coming up it’s supposed to come up, it’s supposed to be processed. It’s no one’s fault!
Sometimes I do this exercise even while talking with people, who have no idea that I’m doing it. So, if you feel tension/anxiety/overwhelm starting to show up, bring your attention to your breath and watch your system calming down on demand.
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A Path to Self-Awareness
Our Holistic approach to Wellness intends to achieve health that considers mind, body and spirit as a whole. I believe attention to all three is needed to stay balanced. Bringing balance into your lifestyle will help you unlock your full potential to excel and live a joyous and fulfilling life. With the use of neuroscience-based tools, neuro-linguistic programming (NLP,) meditation, mindful breathing, sound therapy, nutrition and body movement, I will support you on staying focused and reprogramming your mindset to develop maximum health.