Can the simple act of consciously controlling the way in which you breathe, help you to manage your own thought processes?
Yes - its called conscious breathing. And its easy to do.
Does this mean that this can be done anywhere,
at any time, in any space, during ordinary everyday
activities, like driving a car, sitting on a train,
plane or bus, walking, at your desk working, watching TV
or a movie or on a mobile chat?
The answer is an unequivocal yes.
And the benefits from regularly doing this are immense.
These three are well documented:
Induces calm - raises levels of concentration and improves clarity of thought.
Isn’t this just a bit like meditation but without all the - you know - hassle - and that it can be done anywhere, in your own time and in ordinary everyday clothes?
You can create your own Breathing Spaces anywhere.
What are you doing right now?
We all do it subconsciously over 22,000 times a day and have done, by and large, since the day we were born.
Rarely do we do so consciously.
Just stop breathing for a moment – sit with it for, say, 10 – 15 seconds if you can.
You are now in the realms of being conscious about your breathing.
Where in your body do you feel your attention is leading you during this short time?
There is money on it being your abdominal muscles.
Try it – just for 10 - 15 seconds.
That’s because as you stop breathing – your abdominal muscles continue to contract just a little, and then a little more, pushing up the diaphragm to expel air from your lungs.
When you begin to breath again, your abdominal muscles relax and expand allowing the diaphragm to drop and air is taken into the lungs.
Try this for a few minutes.
Get your smartphone out, find your stopwatch or timer and watch how you breathe against the clock.
Try not to be too "macho" about this – just easy, gentle breathing will do.
Start your timer and at the same time, take a slow, deep, relaxed breath in……now hold your breath for as long as you comfortably can…slowly let your breath out until you have stopped breathing….then stop your breath again for as long as you comfortably can. Stop the timer when you breathe in again and you are done.
30+ seconds would be a good start.
The 2nd and 3rd time you do this – will be better than the first.
Subconsciously, you breathe about 15-20 times a minute – its called shallow breathing. With a little practise, using conscious breathing you should easily get this down to under 5 times a minute and less.
But this is not about getting a better time in your breathing or
respiratory function, no matter how interesting.
This is about what happened to your attention whilst you were
busy doing this.
What were you thinking?
Understandably not only were you completely involved in the activity of what you were doing and probably competing against the clock, but when you were in “breathing mode” you were completely and utterly focussed, to the exclusion of all else.
This is the physiology of attention in action, where activity in the brain came under the control of what was happening in the body, through the activity of conscious abdominal breathing.
What are the consequences of being able to do this?
Well, if done on a regular daily basis for about 10-15 minutes a day – 20 minutes suits me – quite a few things will begin to happen.
In the first few minutes of conscious breathing you will feel a sense of calm come over you. This is because the vagus nerve (the happy nerve) raises levels of serotonin in your blood. Up to 90% 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 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.
If you do manage to remember to do this every day, your levels of concentration will rise, enabling you to conduct all sorts of thinking and doing activities, with less effort, whilst expending less mental energy.
As you get better and better at the technique of conscious breathing, your raised levels of concentration on the mechanism of your breathing exclusively, will enable to you to preclude any thoughts coming into your brain at this time.
This will lead to vastly improved clarity of thought.
And you can do this anywhere without going to any meditation classes – on your bus or train – great when flying – at your desk – watching TV – when you are online – the list is endless.
Psychologists call these benefits the 3 C’s.
CALM + CONCENTRATION + CLARITY
Three things we could all do with, wherever we are and whatever we are doing.
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