Practice the art of mindful breathing whenever you wish to reduce stress and experience calm. Your breath can inspire and in-spirit you.
—Calm App Reflection
Image from Unsplash by bobby hendry
About three weeks ago I reached a meditation milestone of 1200 consecutive days. This practice, which began before the pandemic, has helped me reduce stress, remain calm, and—when things get out of balance—not lose my head nearly as often as others.
Fundamental to this practice is the act of mindful breathing which helps body, mind and soul navigate our daily pursuits in all the minutes and hours off the cushion.
Consider signing up for a free trial membership of a mediation app such as CALM or Headspace. If this commitment seems beyond your current interest, please investigate the wide variety of breathing exercises out there that can inspire and in-sprit you. Please give these efforts at least a week and let me know what you experience.
“Reading is my inhale and writing is my exhale.”
—Glennon Doyle — American author and activist
Image from Unsplash by Brett Jordan
How long can you hold your breath? Give it a try to see when you simply must exhale and take another. We can live numerous days without food and even water, but without our breath it’s lights out in minutes.
For me, the act of breathing has taken on greater significance over the past few years. I’ve developed the habit of daily meditation, in which the breath is my home base for greater mindfulness and self-awareness.
As a coach and person who has always valued personal development, reading the work of others has always been a priority and something I enjoy.
Writing, on the other hand, was a more recent addition around 10 years ago when I hired my own writing coach and began the Quotable Coach blog. Now with about 2500 posts under my belt, I’ve found my inhale of reading and exhale of writing have created a cycle of giving and receiving which feels essential to my life.
Where and how would taking some deep breaths in (reading) and full breaths out (writing) energize you and add more vitality and aliveness to your days?
“Pause, breathe, repair the universe – then proceed.”
Image from Unsplash by Sonja Langford
Let’s do an experiment. Take out your cell phone or other device that has a clock or time-keeping function. Count the number of breaths you take in one minute, breathing at a normal rate. Do not try to alter the way you breathe, just count the number of inhale/exhale cycles.
How did you do?
If you are like most people, you were probably between 15 and 20 cycles.
In his book Breath, James Nestor suggests that we could all benefit greatly if we would reduce our breathing cycle by two-thirds, to around six breaths per minute.
The quick and over simplified reason is to increase the amount of CO2 in each cell, which in turn causes more oxygen from the blood to go to that cell—helping us feel better.
Perhaps this recommendation is one reason why there is such an increase in the number of people embracing mindful breathing as part of their meditation practice.
How would more pausing and mindful breathing help you repair and improve your piece of the universe?
As a simple experiment, try breathing in to the count of five, and out to the count of five for two to three minutes and see how you feel.
“The nose is for breathing, the mouth is for eating.”
Image from Unsplash by Marina Vitale
Did you know that 50% of kids and adults are chronic mouth breathers?
In yesterday’s post about James Nestor’s book, Breath, I mentioned that one of his key take-aways was the importance of nasal breathing over mouth breathing. Nestor conducted a ten-day experiment on himself, implanting silicone plugs in his nose to determine how chronic mouth breathing would affect his health.
After only a few hours of mouth breathing, he felt awful. Based on his heart rate measures, he found himself in a state of chronic stress. His blood pressure also spiked, putting him into a stage two state of hypertension. His ability to concentrate on work and remember facts took a hit as well.
When we breathe through our nose we purify, heat, moisten, and pressurize the air we breathe. This increases the amount of oxygen we absorb, as well as our levels of nitric oxide, which improves circulation.
How might a greater focus on nasal breathing versus mouth breathing throughout the day—and night, if you snore or wake with a dry mouth—allow your body to function at peak efficiency?
Doing so will allow the air you breathe and the healthy foods you eat maximize your energy throughout the day.
“Whenever I feel blue, I start breathing again.”
—L. Frank Baum, 19th Century Author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
There are plenty of reasons to be more than a bit blue these days. Perhaps it is no wonder people around the world are flocking to meditation apps and practices, to bring greater calm and peace into their lives.
In James Nestor’s New York Times bestselling book, Breath – The New Science of a Lost Art, he points to a variety of reasons for the great benefits and strategies we can all employ.
Two significant take-aways are favoring nasal breathing over mouth breathing, and the reduction of the number of breaths we take.
For those who prefer a bit more science, these two strategies increase both nitric oxide and carbon dioxide levels in our blood. Both are associated with enhanced energy and feelings of well-being.
Please visit respiratorytherapyzone.com/quotes-about-breathing to explore 98 more nuggets of wisdom to inhale and improve your life.
Please reply to this post with the quotes that resonate best with you.