In OS, we teach what we believe to be the natural state of breathing; in and out through the nose with the tongue on the roof of the mouth, pulling air down into the belly with your diaphragm to fill the lungs up from the bottom to the top. We teach this style of breathing because it is the way babies breathe for the first few to several months of life. It is the way we breathe when we come into the world, the way we are programmed to breathe. It is peaceful and yet powerful, it is quiet and yet communicative, it is essential for rest and also essential for being. This natural state of breathing is a complete reset in and of itself. It can help strengthen the nervous system, it can soothe the emotions, quiet the mind, and awaken the heart when practiced deliberately.
Breathing is not just about the giving and receiving of air. To only see it as air exchange is to look at it with the shallowest of glances. Breathing is about the balance between becoming and being, giving and taking, expressing and absorbing, creating and learning, resting and fighting, boldness and cowering, stumbling and rising, existing and living. I know that’s a lot to digest, but I’m trying to explain something far beyond a superficial glance; the breath of life.
Yes, biologically speaking, breathing keeps us alive. But it is how we breathe that determines how we live, or whether we truly live. The way we breathe dramatically affects everything about our bodies, our minds, our experiences, our decisions, our emotions, and our perceptions. The way we breathe affects how we experience life.
Look around you, look at yourself even. How do you see people breathe? Do you see “neck” breathers? Are they anxious, easily excitable, over-stressed, afraid, frazzled and fried? Do you see chest and shoulder breathers? Are they stiff, slow, “glass half-emptiers”? Do you see people that hold their breath a lot? Are they red-faced, easy to anger, slow to listen, fast to speak? Do you see open mouth breathers? Are they tired, lethargic, and overweight, do they slouch and slump, and complain about not sleeping at night?
Take any of the ways of breathing above; look at their faces, look at their eyes. What do you see? Are they full of light, joy, peace, and life? Or are their eyes tired, weary, and dull?
Now envision a person who seems to breathe into their belly, with their lips closed? What do you see? Do you see confidence, peace, joy, light, and strength? How do they move? How is their posture? Do they walk with ease and move with grace? What about their words? How do they speak? Do they talk with words of calm, confidence, and comfort?
Can you see the differences in your mind’s eye? I know it might be a stretch to imagine all of this. You may even think I’m crazy – but you wouldn’t if you could experience what I’m saying for yourself. The proof is always in the pudding, right? So get into the pudding if you want to experience what I’m saying. Deliberately practice your natural state of breathing, ESPECIALLY if it is not how you currently naturally breathe.
Breathing is so easy to dismiss. It’s not sexy. It’s not fancy. It takes time. It takes focus. But if you could experience all that it can do for you, it quickly becomes sexy and elegant to the point where you want to give it your time and focus.
Do you have stress? Do you have responsibilities? Do you have pain? Do you have “issues”? Do you have “chaos”? Is life happening to you? Would you like to actually happen to life?
If so, be curious and try this for two weeks (14 days) and see what you discover:
- Find a quiet place where you can be alone.
- Leave your phone in another room, and/or turn it off.
- Get in a comfortable position.
- Close your lips, place your tongue on the roof of your mouth, and breathe in and out through your nose.
- Breathe with intent. Pulling air down into your belly, imagine filling your lungs up from the bottom to the top.
- Feel your belly, sides and back expand.
- With each exhalation let go of any tension you are feeling or holding in your body.
- With each inhalation search for any tension you need to let go.
- Simply breathe and be.
- Simply be and breathe.
- It’s okay if your mind wanders and wonders. Just keep focused on your breathing.
- Do this for 10 minutes.
- Every day.
- 14 days.
- Report back.