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Keep the mind calm and your Heart happy by breathing deeply.

Keep the mind calm and your Heart happy by breathing deeply.

Photo: A palm tree standing quietly breathing in and out at Geger Beach Bali.

Keep the mind calm and your Heart happy by breathing deeply.

People often explain to me in my clinic that they have a busy mind and sometimes it’s so busy that they can’t shut it off and go to sleep. The question they ask me is how do I slow it down? Which is a great question.

There are many different reasons why people have busy minds and in many cases stress as well. It is well documented that under stress we release harmful stress hormones into the body. Deep breathing has been proven to scientifically affect the heart, the brain, the digestion and the immune system. Research has shown that breathing exercises have immediate effects by altering the pH of the blood, or and changing blood pressure.

Esther Sternberg is a physician, author of several books on stress and healing and researcher at the National Institute of Mental Health. She says rapid breathing is controlled by the sympathetic nervous system. It’s part of the ‘fight or flight’ response which can be activated by stress. Where in contrast, slow, deep breathing stimulates the opposing parasympathetic reaction which calms us down.

Harvard researcher Herbert Benson coined the term ‘The Relaxation Response’ in 1975 with a book of the same name. In it, Benson used scientific research to show that short periods of meditation, using breathing as a focus, could alter the body’s stress response. Benson claims his research shows that breathing can even change the expression of genes. He says that by using your breath, you can alter the basic activity of your cells with your mind. He said “We can use the mind and our breath to change our body and our genes, we can change the genes that are produced when we are under stress.”

In India, breath work is called pranayama and is a regular part of Yoga practice.The Chinese have been using Qigong exercises for thousands of year to regulate the breath, heart and mind.

I visited a Medical Doctor in New Zealand and she hooked me up to a heart monitor and took a reading, then I took five long, slow, even breaths in and out and she took the reading again. It had a profound effect on regulating the heart beat. I was sold and from then on if I felt myself getting stressed I would do these five breaths and it seemed to always calm me down, but not only calm down the stress I was feeling in my heart but it also seemed to calm my mind.

I encourage you to try it. Right now, stop reading and take five long, slow, even in and out breaths, count to six on the in breath and six on the out breath.

How do you feel?

There are many different breathing practices and techniques, try some, find the one that works for you. I’m not say mine is the best it’s just one I like.

Qigong Breath practice:

  1. Breath into the count of 2 then breath out to the count of 3
  2. Breath into the count of 3 then breath out to the count of 4
  3. Breath into the count of 4 then breath out to the count of 5
  4. Breath into the count of 5 then breath out to the count of 6
  5. Breath into the count of 6 then breath out to the count of 7
  6. I will keep going until I feel myself about to strain on the in or out breath. (don’t go to where it’s not comfortable and if you are forcing the breath)
  7. It needs to be relaxing, comfortable and easy.
  8. Find the number that is easy. Stay there and do five in and out breaths at that number. If you feel it becomes a strain come down a number.
  9. The number that is comfortable for the duration can change day to day, hour to hour, just stay with the number that is comfortable for that practice, don’t try to stay with the same number, your energy of the day will dictate the number for the durations of the breaths.
  10. The goal of this practice is not to increase the duration over time, it’s just to do what is comfortable on the day.

Important notes:

  1. Breathe down into your belly, allow your belly to expand on the in breath which
    will draw your diaphragm down and contract your belly on the out breath which
    will rise your diaphragm.
  2. Make both your inhales and exhales smooth and full, without strain.
  3. Try to exhale fully.
  4. Don’t hold your breath between in and out breaths.
  5. As you breathe, keep the tip of your tongue touching the roof of your mouth.
  6. Stay within 70 percent of your capacity, breathing quietly, softly and deeply in a
    relaxed manner.
  7. Breath in and out your nose if possible.

I believe the breath practices bring a higher vibration to the heart, which in turn will bring more happiness as happiness and joy are said to have a higher vibration.

You breathe at least 17,000 times per day, bring your attention to 10 of them, it’s good for you health.

Bring awareness to your breathing, be happy, have a quiet mind, live a long happy life.

And remember to keep breathing.


Pete C

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