From the moment we come squalling into this world and take our first breath, filling our lungs with oxygen is the single most important thing we can do for our survival, in fact, many of us simply do it unconsciously and take it for granted that it will happen.
There has been a number of times recently where I have been reminded of the power of breath and how bringing your attention to the slow, and deliberate filling of your lungs, followed by the gentle exhalation can ease many conditions from physical to emotional pain, and also increase pleasure.
When I’m anxious my breath gets shallow, the breaths become fast and short like a little frightened creature and that just enhances my feelings of worry.
I’ve also upped my exercise considerably of late, and proper breathing is the only way to survive a workout without expiring ungracefully in public with a sweaty bum crack which will lead people to believe you peed your pants as you carked it.
Sometimes it is a lack of oxygen that is affecting us, perhaps due to shallow or inefficient breathing, but mostly it is about what happens to your mind when you connect your breath to your mind.
When I was expecting my babies I did the Calmbirth technique in order to have a pain management plan of action as I was hoping to have drug free labours.
This technique, and many others like it, focussed completely on the breath. Did it alleviate my pain?
Of course not, pushing a watermelon out of your nethers is not called labour for nothing, however is gave my mind something to focus on in order to endeavour to keep my mind relaxed and not concentrating on the pain. The fear of pain, or the single minded focus on that pain is scientifically proven to increase the level of pain experienced.
Breath will not alleviate agony, however mindful breathing and a calm mind can handle amazing things.
When I recently undertook an afternoon tantric workshop I discovered that tantra primarily about breath rather than fancy sexual contortions. Calming your mind prior to sensual activity, breathing to stay focussed on your partner and not allow your mind to wander to the laundry or shopping list.
Breathing to help you control your orgasm. Many people hold their breath as they’re trying to come, but when you continue to focus on deep, strong breaths you can achieve climax easier, with heightened sensation.
This is all before you even get into the true “tantra” stuff of withholding orgasm in order to build something that rocks your socks off…. but we’re not talking about rumpy today, we’re just breathing all chaste-like.
I’m not a natural athlete but whether you’re doing something aerobic or strength based, swimming or yoga, it all comes back to the breath.
Ragged breathing during exercise not only makes it difficult to keep standing up, but it also decreases your ability to perform well. If you are doing cardio you need to draw large breaths into your tummy, filling your diaphragm and not just your upper lungs.
During weight training you often have a tendency to hold your breath, but if you exhale in the exertion (the heavy bit) and inhale on the lighter part you can be sure to keep good blood flow and stop yourself from falling arse over tit.
When you’re stretching if you breathe into the stretch it can give you greater range of flexibility but also prevent any loud expletives from falling out of your mouth as you pull your tired muscles.
The thing about stress is the more you do it, the more crippling it is. Shallow breathing is something that we fall into in times of stress, and that perpetuates the feeling of anxiety and not being in control.
It totally feeds on itself, and it’s not very productive. If you feel you are overly stressed or feeling anxious taking your mind back to your breath will connect your with the present and keep you grounded in the now.
Close your eyes and take a few deep and measured breaths clearing your mind of all but what you are doing. Practicing this a few times a day will increase your emotional and mental wellbeing. Unless you’re a total nut job then you might need a little extra help.
I’m shit at meditation but it’s a great way to breath some calm not your life. If you’re shit, like me, remember that you can just breathe anytime, whilst doing anything just to get into the moment. Focused breath is the key to a calm mind.
Trust me, I’m working on it like a mofo.
Do you ever do mindful breathing? Or mediation? Or……..tantra?????