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Learning to Breathe Again: Finding Relaxation

Learning to Breathe Again: Finding Relaxation
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Does breathing come naturally?  Yes. And no.

Yes, our bodies know how to breathe, it’s a reflex. But do we know how to breathe deeply and fully in a way that connects our breath to our spirit, and brings relaxation? Not necessarily. Sometimes we forget.

I once heard someone say that most people do not breathe in enough oxygen. Our brain needs oxygen or we will pass out. Our bodies need oxygen to keep our blood moving. Athletes train their bodies, and push them to the limits of their endurance. They are not able to do this without the capacity to breathe enough oxygen.

On Mt. Everest, the world’s tallest mountain above sea level, climbers must push their bodies beyond their abilities, in order to reach their goal. It has been said that at the top, you are dying. This is because (among other things) your body doesn’t have enough oxygen.

The Importance of Deep Breathing

We all know how important oxygen is, but it’s invisible and easy to take for granted. I was once given  instruction on how to do a breathing exercise for relaxation. I was to breathe in as deeply as I could through my nose, slowly counting to three in my head, and then releasing the breath back out through my mouth in a long, slow exhale, while counting to four or five, or however long I could go. It was interested to watch how my body responded to this exercise.

After three deep breaths like this, I could feel my chest expanding and ribs opening, and my arms and legs became heavy and quiet. My head felt as if it was lifting off my body, but then I realized it was just the sensation of my shoulders dropping gently down. (How long have they been up there? I wondered). This may sound strange, but it was as if I had allowed my body a moment of pure Joy – in the form of a full measure of oxygen.

Do you breathe shallow?  Or breathe deeply?  I wish I could remember to breathe deeply all the time. But even if I only remember once a day – that’s better than never breathing deeply at all. Try the exercise and see what it does for you. I bet your body will thank you!

-sbmccoy

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