Breathing Spaces in the office or workplace – what would the corporate benefits be?
Less stress and more calm – just for starters.
We all take a break, a breather or whatever you want to call it once or twice and maybe more, every day.
We do so to get a snack or a drink, or simply to get away from whatever we are doing for a while, before getting back to get our heads down and earn our living.
What if you were to turn one of these breaks into a Breathing Space?
What is a Breathing Space?
Well, it’s a space in which you can undertake to practise conscious
breathing for about 10 minutes or so at a time every day.
The benefits are huge.
What do you mean by “conscious breathing”?
Its when you are able to slow your breathing down consciously from say, 16-20 times a minute, which you do subconsciously most of the time, to around 3-4 times a minute, by focussing your attention on your abdomen and getting your diaphragm to work in the breathing process.
The individual and corporate benefits would be immense, as proper breathing and the ability to relax are essential aspects of dealing with stress.
Breathing exercises and relaxation techniques, work by initiating the relaxation response - a physiological mechanism which counteracts the effects of stress and after a reasonably short time, puts the body and mind into a profound state of relaxation.
Other benefits of the regular practise of conscious breathing, have been known to include lowered blood pressure and levels of stress hormones, improved lung function and digestion, decreased blood sugar and cholesterol, improved immune system function, central physiological stability, greater mental clarity, raised levels of serotonin which induces calm, a greater sense of self-awareness and an increased ability to concentrate.
Just sit up as straight as you comfortably can, without leaning back on something and making your back and shoulders stoop – breathe out slowly and focus your attention in your contracting abdomen as you do so. Now stop breathing for a few seconds and you will feel tension in the lower abdomen rising – release the tension by relaxing the abdominal muscles, which will expand and you will automatically breathe in again. The muscles of the thorax or chest are hardly used, as this is what is commonly referred to abdominal respiration.
Here the diaphragm which is sometimes referred to as the second heart - because when used correctly in the breathing process, it takes pressure off the heart, by moving blood around the body – is used exclusively.
It creates a wave-like rhythm in the breathing process,
which is easy, gentle and which makes breathing a real
pleasure and provides for some of the benefits of
conscious breathing described above.
Maintaining the rhythm of your breathing is key as this
can only be accomplished through high levels of
concentration, which means that if your mind is fully
focussed on your breathing rhythm – it precludes
other distracting thoughts from arising.
Its actually pretty easy to do – the trick is to remember
to do it on regular basis during each day – and with practise, breathing 3-4 times a minute becomes commonplace.
What would happen if an entire workforce was encouraged into trying out Breathing Spaces too?
Well, one thing is a given – the workplace will become a much calmer, less stressful and more productive place in which to work and that’s not just going to impact the bottom line – the top line will feel the effect too.
And that’s good for business and the people in and around that business.
If you are interested in starting up a Breathing Spaces programme, or in learning more about how this could work do get in touch.