The Breath-Tool. By Jacqui Storm. How conscious breathing can improve our wellbeing.
Updated: Jan 24, 2020
The Breath-Tool By Jacqui Storm
Breathing is seen as something which occurs without us choosing it - it just happens and there’s nothing we can do about it!
But once we realise breathing can occur by choice, just as much as it occurs automatically, we can utilise it to enhance our health and well-being.
Our breath effects our mind and body. Slow soft deep breathing into our bellies relaxes us and gives a sense of peace. Rapid shallow breathing triggers a stress response.
Habitual breathing patterns are formed very early on in life. As many of us experience stress growing up, it is very easy to get stuck in a pattern of breathing that is not helpful or even harmful to our overall health. It is thought that even something we have no recollection of, such as being born, can have a huge impact on the rest of our lives. Since we are often born in a harsh environment relative to the previous nine protected months, even the very first breath can be traumatic! Other disharmonious events can cause breathing to remain distorted and a tense breathing pattern will begin. If this is continued over an even longer period of time, an underlying physical and emotional tension will develop in the child. When starting school, if the child is already slightly hyper reactive, feelings of being overwhelmed can begin and quickly escalate.
Many teachers and parents have observed children reach the point of meltdown.
Stressed breathing can manifest as hyperventilation, or over-breathing, and / or shallow strained breath. Since the breath connects deeply to our primal reactions - those feelings that bypass our intellect - the body can easily get stuck in danger/fear mode with stressed breathing signalling to the body that we are in trouble with the resulting urges any animal has: to act dead, attack or run for your life! Our human intellect usually suppresses these urges but if this stressed response is continuing behind the scenes for long periods of time, it can start to affect us on all levels leaving us feeling lost and like we no longer know ourselves.
The symptoms are many including fear, panic and anxiety. We may shut down to the world in depression or become hyperactive, explosive and angry. These are all signs of stress and there is a direct link between stress and mental and physical health.
Changing and working with our breathing patterns is a simple way to help reverse the above. The steps that lead to stressed breathing can also work in the reverse. When a client spends prolonged time positively changing the way they breathe, they can and will form new habits, becoming less reactive to their environment. In this way we can reverse a lifelong habit.
So, is it really that simple?
The reason breath work is so helpful is both scientific and mechanical. Since breathing effects both body chemistry and hormones, it follows that by changing our habitual breathing patterns for the better and learning some simple exercises, together with the right supportive therapy, it will improve our health. It’s not magic, though it may seem that way since the results are often astonishingly fast! With a little work, we truly can find inner tranquillity and peace.