To control the breathing is to control the mind. With different patterns of breathing, you can fall in love, you can hate someone, you can feel the whole spectrum of feelings by changing your breath.” – Marina Abramovic
Even before ever reading the quote above, I have realized the importance of breathing and the impact it can have. I believe in it so much that I recently even purchased a “shift” necklace from Komuso Designs which is made to help you breathe through moments of stress, anxiety or just general feelings of discomfort. The “shift” necklace is made to help the exhale be a bit longer than you typically would do normally, and using it can help the body calm. I am not paid to endorse this product – I just really enjoy it. I WILL say though, as a person who has smoked in the past, this necklace has been really great for those fidgety hand/mouth moments when stress hits me like a brick and my immediate initial response is “I would love to smoke right now”. Up until the last year or so of my life though, I don’t believe I paid enough attention to my breath and how important it can be in so many ways.
- It’s a literal, physical way to pause before you react – This can be MONUMENTALLY important and help so many situations from inflating or escalating. Sometimes our knee jerk reaction is to react with venom, but if we breathe in, breathe out and take that one to two seconds, we can sometimes mitigate those impulsive responses.
- Breath work can help you physically – It can help you fall asleep, and sleep better! Along with this, there’s many, varied ways that breath work can relax, or invigorate. It can be a way to work through pain, let out aggression, boost sexual fun, and even strengthen your lung capacity and/or core.
- Gateway to meditation – For me, personally, I find breath work to be helpful when I am (attempting) to meditate, because it gives me something to focus on rather than fixating on “clearing my mind”. It happens more naturally for me and I can count my breaths or their duration, and in turn find my mind more centered.
- It can put you at ease and in tune with others – Have you ever noticed that people feed off of each other in various ways, such as naturally falling into synchronicity with steps or arm motion while walking together? Well the same can happen with your breathing. Especially with a child, or partner, or anyone you happen to be snuggled up with – the matching of the breathing can make you both feel more connected and increase feelings of peacefulness, safety and love.
- Not that you would WANT to do it – but even things like fast, shallow breathing can cause an intense bout of lightheaded feeling, and even go so far as to make someone pass out. Also along those lines, when in an intense emotional state (such as when you might be crying), breathing can help to ease some of the tears and regain the composure to continue the conversation or at least let the body calm down enough to re-focus. There are GREAT, cathartic reasons to cry, but sometimes when we go very deep into our emotions, it can be a whirlwind that traps us if we aren’t conscious, and can leave us feeling depleted, and exhausted.
Breathing truly can shape many moments, and help us to react in ways different than we might otherwise. Take note of your own breath and try to see how your breathing changes when you’re feeling different emotions.
Also – this is sort of like mindfulness, but not entirely – so if you want to work on mindfulness and practice that more, breathing is a great way to start.