Breathing and Stress
Conscious breathing and the ability to relax are essential aspects of dealing with stress.
Breathing exercises and relaxation techniques, such as progressive muscular relaxation, work by initiating the relaxation response - a physiological mechanism which counteracts the effects of stress and after a time, puts the body and mind into a profound state of relaxation.
In the first few minutes of conscious breathing in which you establlish a rhythm, you will feel a sense of calm come over you. This is because the vagus nerve (the happy nerve) - one of two long cranial nerves found in the mid-brain of 12 pairs connected to your gastrointestinal tract - raises levels of serotonin in your blood. Up to 80% of our supply of serotonin is found in the gastrointestinal tract – in other words in the abdominal area - often referred to as our second brain.
During this time your body temperature may rise a little as you are taking more oxygen into your lungs per respiration and if you haven’t had a stimulant for about an hour or so, your blood pressure and your heart rate will drop, just a little and only for the period of you practising conscious breathing.
Try to be conscious of your breathing as often as possible throughout each day. Learn to breathe gently and deeply from the abdomen. As you get better and better at the technique of rhythmical breathing, your raised levels of concentration on the mechanism of your breathing exclusively, will enable to you to more effectively manage your thoughts .
And once you have learned how to do this, you can do it anywhere without going to any meditation classes. On your bus or train – great when flying – at your desk – watching TV – when you are online – out walking on your own - the list is endless.
Other benefits may 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, calmness, and a greater sense of self-awareness.
The Rhythmical Breathing Method
The basic method requires a conscious effort to allow the breathing to be managed from the lower abdomen.
This method of breathing has been handed down over thousands of years, by masters of meditation and yoga and once mastery of it has been attained, which is not difficult, you will enjoy the way you breathe each day of your life, from then on.
The reason for this is that only through the correct breathing mechanism will you be able to relax, deeply relax. Only when you are able to relax properly, will you be able to become more aware of how you breathe.
Slow, concentrated breathing brings about a calm state of mind.