Take a Long Deep Breath of Happiness
“Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts. Whenever your mind becomes scattered, use your breath as the means to take hold of your mind again.” –Thich Nhat Hanh, The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation
Proven Way to Joy #17: Deep elongated slow breathing
Life can throw some pretty heavy stuff our way sometimes. Whether it is work, family, or relationship related or personal struggle, tragic event, or health related, we will all experience hard moments throughout our lifetime; it is just part of life. It is these hard moments that have the capability of teaching us valuable life lessons and perspective changing realizations.
Sometimes things happen for a reason, even though you might not be able to grasp that right away. In the meantime though, during times of despair, depression, anxiety, and stress it is important to utilize our natural coping abilities and allow ourselves to heal and recover in a more organic and unforced timeframe. The breath is one of our greatest tools. Amit Ray said in his book Beautify your Breath-Beautify your Life that the, “breath is the finest gift of nature. Be grateful for this wonderful gift.”
Practicing controlled breathing has a number of physical and mental benefits. The art of breathing has been the focal point of mediation and yoga practices, and for good reasons. Hana Matt explains that, “by doing abdominal breathing you activate the Vagus nerve, which triggers more joy chemicals to be released and the ignition of the relaxation response, which is necessary for your body to heal, repair, and renew. It counteracts the stress response. The increased oxygen supply to your body’s cells produces endorphins and serotonin.”
You can start by dedicating ten to twenty minutes of your day to conscientious breathing. Simply fill your lungs up so that they press against the inside of your chest cavity and release each breath slowly and with control. You can do this when you wake up in the morning, while you are sitting in traffic on the way to work, as you are taking a mid-day walk, or before you go to sleep at night; anytime is a good time. This practice not only will release joy biochemicals, but it will also help improve your memory, lower your blood pressure and heart rate, and boost your immunity. You might be surprised by where your breath takes you.
Thank you for sharing a smile with us this week.