You can live for weeks without food, days without water, but only minutes without air. Breathing is the most important thing you can do for your physical survival and mental wellbeing, and yet it’s one of the most neglected activities we do.
At the most basic level breathing provides oxygen to metabolise (burn) glucose for the production of energy and to expel the residual gas (carbon dioxide) created from the metabolised glucose.
Stepping up from this level, breathing affects and is also affected by your emotional state. Someone who is angry will tend to breathe lower into his or her chest and someone who is fearful will tend to breathe higher into the chest. To change the way you feel you can focus on taking long slow breaths from the base of your lungs (diaphragm) to the top of your lungs (clavicle) and back again.
For example to release an unwanted feeling, focus on taking 10 long slow breaths so you remove your attention from the upsetting experience and give your body time to readjust to the new breathing rhythm. Your emotional state will begin to return to normal.
This demonstrates another remarkable characteristic of breathing; it’s both involuntary and voluntary. Most of the time it works without you thinking about it and everything is fine. You may choose to direct your breath, by breathing faster, slower, longer, shallower, pause the exhale or inhale, or a combination of the afore mentioned.
By directing your breathing you may let go of a headache, calm your nerves, give yourself more energy to swim further, focus your thoughts to solve a problem or enter a state of no thoughts (meditation).
At another level you can use the breath to release forgotten upsets and long held emotional hurts. For example, by using a connected breathing technique (no pauses between the inhale and the exhale, The Rebirth Breath Technique) you will be able to feel the disappointment of a lost relationship that you thought you had gotten over.
If you had completely gotten over that relationship then there would be nothing to feel. By not releasing the emotion of that past experience you may find yourself not trusting the love in your present relationship, as some part of you may fear being hurt again. As a consequence of not fully feeling safe in your present relationship you may unwittingly create stress, miscommunication and the very lack of love you were trying to avoid.
By fully releasing these feelings from earlier in your life you can now function at your best, confidant that people do love and support you. By remaining open hearted you create for yourself a safe, loving and abundant world.
Michael Adamedes is available for private consultations and regularly conducts weekend Rebirth Breathing Retreats. The next one is being held Sat/Sun 24-25 October, for booking and more information go to: http://www.awabaspiritualyogaretreat.com.au/retreatsworkshop/rebirthing-residential/