- Breathing, at a slow steady pace, activates the “relaxed” nervous system. The “relaxed” nervous system prompts the body to properly deliver blood to your vital organs and extremities.
- Short shallow breathing activates your “fight of flight” nervous system, which shunts blood away from your vital organs and extremities, depleting them of oxygen, while sending all the blood to your brain.
- The muscles involved in expiration, the intercostals, are stronger than the muscles involved in inspiration. By training your exhalation to extend, your inhale will naturally extend as well.
- Training your breathing patterns is an effective long term solution to improve stress, anxiety and health conditions such as high blood pressure and panic disorders.
- Breathing is the way we feed our vital organs, including our brain, with oxygen. Without enough oxygen you may experience mental sluggishness, lack of energy, negative feelings.
Why is oxygen so vital? Often times the importance of something is more clearly defined in it’s absence. Though we can do without food for weeks and possibly water for days, without adequate oxygen supply, we will die within in a few minutes.
So what is happening in our bodies daily when we are breathing quickly and shallowly? Holistic Living Online reports, “While the result is not as extreme as a heart attack or a stroke there are still a significant series of “little deaths” occurring in the body. We may experience these as feelings of mental sluggishness, lack of energy, decreased creativity and heightened states of negativity.”
Today, make it simple. If you are feeling hurried, overwhelmed, or stressed, stop, slow down, and breathe. You will gain the clarity, focus, and peace you need by simply breathing. Make your breaths even, steady, and slow.
1. Stop – Take three deep sighs. As you release your sigh make an audible “AHHHHH” sound. The conscious use of sound creation creates wellness in your body. Release anger and frustration through this simple vocalization and get the chaos out of your body.
2. Breathe – Take a deep breath. Fill your belly like a balloon when you breathe in. Exhale and deflate your belly pulling it flat against your spine. Breathe at a slow steady pace. Strengthen your exhale, making it longer than your inhale. Repeat until your breathing is steady, slow, quiet, and regular. Practice for 5 minutes.
3. Visualize – Visualize images, colors, and natural settings, which promote a sense of calm in your body. Serene lakes, turquoise seas, and rolling hillsides help to create a feeling of expansiveness and freedom. Imagine majestic oaks or picturesque mountain ranges to help you feel grounded. Picture healing colors cocooning you in light and surrounding your body. My favorite color cocoons are violet, emerald, and fuschia. Choose your own color. Your imagination is a powerful tool.
4. Listen – Listen to music that relaxes you. Metallica or Mozart, music brings you into the present moment, relieves stress, and effectively moves emotions. Choose your genre. As Martin Luther said, “Beautiful music is the art of the prophets that can calm the agitations of the soul; it is one of the most magnificent and delightful presents God has given us.”
5. Play – A joyful cure for chaos. Pets are the perfect playmates. Run your dog, snuggle your cat, or visit a bunny at the pet store. Engage in sports, games, and recreation. Get your heart pumping and your blood moving.
6. Unplug – Get out into nature. Explore the outdoors and unplug from technology. Howl at the moon, gaze at the stars, and observe the sunset. Take a break from your email inbox, Twitter feed, and Facebook fan page.
7. Surrender – Let go of control. Allow life to flow. For a moment, forget your plans. Replace rigidity with flexibility. Anticipate things going better than you expected. Affirm your life is unfolding for the highest possible good.
Practice these seven tips on a regular basis to help you move from chaos to calm.
Experiencing fear is a part of the human design. Thank God for fear; I mean seriously. It keeps us from lollygagging in the middle of a busy freeway and reclining on a hot stove. However, often times fear is invoked in our body and mind mistakenly. In the face of recent world tragedies, learning to alchemize fear is absolutely essential to your wellbeing. The forgotten magic is so simple you may guffaw. Just remember the proof is in the pudding. Put to practice these six steps and see what happens for you.
1. Slow Down – Revisit the way you pace your life. Moving hurriedly, overbooking your schedule, and racing from one thing to another activates your fight or flight system. Once your body is in fight or flight you become more susceptible to “fits” of fear. Daily chaos happens. However, if your lifestyle is built upon drama and disorder, fear can overtake you like an invasive weed. Make time to rest, prioritize self-care, and plan for your wellbeing.
2. Be Present – Get present. Be in your body. Notice with all five senses what is happening in the moment. Try this:
- Feel the feeling of air on your skin.
- Notice the sensation of your clothes against your skin.
- Feel the ground below you.
- Listen to the sounds around you.
- Look at the environment around you.
- Visually memorize your immediate surroundings.
- Close your eyes. Try to describe what you just saw and state it out loud.
Getting present will help you to be in present time. Present time is where all the answers reside. Here you can take action on what needs to be done rather than worrying about it.
3. Breathe Deeply – Breathing is the magic switch to activate your parasympathetic nervous system, aka your relaxed nervous system. Deep breathing will help you turn off fight or flight activity. Shallow breathing deprives the body of adequate oxygen leading to lack of mental clarity.
- Place your hands on your belly.
- Inhale. Expand your belly like a balloon.
- Exhale. Deflate your belly.
- Repeat for a count of five as you inhale and seven as you exhale.
- Practice this sequence for 5 minutes
4. Empathize Don’t Compare. Empathy is the ability to be wholly present with another’s experience without the judgment. Interestingly many people mix up empathy with fearful thinking. Imagine empathizing like having a full glass of water, which you overflow to those around you. Loving thoughts, like water, flow from you to the person, place, or thing you are empathizing. Whereas fearful thinking is relating to another’s circumstances and then thinking how horrible it would be if it happened to you, your loved ones, and/or environment. This thought process insidiously drains all the water from your glass. Your body and soul are designed to manage your life circumstances. People may look at your life challenges and think “I could never deal with that!” and it’s true. That is why they aren’t. You will have every ounce of resource to deal with what comes your way. It is a part of your destiny. Separate empathy from fearful thinking.
5. Master Your Media Intake – Media literacy is paramount. Isn’t it odd that meteorologists take pride in their accuracy and headline copyrighters gloat on fearful messages? Can you imagine a weatherman hyping up a possible tornado in order to sell more newspapers? It would be preposterous. Participate in daily life by consciously choosing where you obtain your information. Evaluate, analyze, and develop critical thinking to competently interpret what you are reading, watching, and hearing. Thousands of messages a day bombard us making it easy to be manipulated due to sheer overwhelm. Media messages, which offer a misrepresentation, intended or unintended, due to lack of in-depth understanding or knowledge about the topic being reported, are damaging to your mental-emotional wellbeing. The role of mass media in constructing views of reality can seriously work against your feelings of wellbeing and safety.
Headline campaigns are designed to activate the reptilian brain. A reptile will eat its own young. When you are in your reptilian brain, the world appears as a “dog eat dog” world. The world becomes something to be feared. The mammalian brain, the higher brain center is recruited through things such as meditation, breathing, connection to loved ones, being present, etc. A mammal would die for its young. You get the point? If you are in fear, you will treat others fearfully and vice versa. It makes for quite a tense world. If you are in your higher brain centers and present, you will be inspired to connect, give, love, and share. Making for joyful worldly interactions.
6. Face Your Mortality – If you’re a seminar junkie, like me, chances are you have gone through an exercise where you pretend it is your last day, week, or month of your life. This exercise is meant to inspire you to take action in your life to let go of what you don’t want to be doing, engage in what is most important to you, and re-connect with any areas of your life that are a “mess” to clean up. It is possible you may have paid thousands for this experience. Guess what? Now is the opportunity to make the dance of your mortality the utmost of importance. We each harbor creative potential waiting to be unleashed to transform the collective. If you are droning in a day job, stop it. Take action. Face your mortality. With reverence, seek the preciousness of your life and do the work that is most important to your soul. Seek forgiveness where you need to, take the risk to do your life’s work, and give up being unconscious. If this were your last month to be alive, would you be at peace in all areas of your life? If not, take action to clear up these areas now.
Take time to implement each step. Consider making the changes in your lifestyle to slow down, breathe, get present, empathize, release fearful thinking, master your media intake, and face your mortality, see what happens. What steps do you suggest to alchemize fear?