Such a simple, unconscious, and yet life-giving action that we perform awake and asleep.
But do you remember to breathe? I mean, really breathe, consciously and deeply. Our body is great at giving us signs about our need to be more conscious of our breathing – we yawn because there’s not enough oxygen in our system, we sigh when we’re frustrated or stressed or worn out. But do we pay enough attention to these signs?
Across ancient cultures and languages, the words for ‘breath’and ‘life’ o r ‘spirit’ are often interchangeable, and spiritual practices over millennia have known how integral breath is to a wholesome functioning of our bodies and minds – something that unfortunately modern day society has seemingly lost.
If you want to improve your breathing, how about starting now, as you read this. Sit back, relax your shoulders and if you feel safe, close your eyes. Take a deep breath in through your nose, hold it for a few seconds then let it out slowly through your mouth, and repeat.
Deep breathing like this has so many benefits, it’s amazing we don’t do it more often. From reducing stress and anxiety to improving digestion and core muscle stability, deep breathing can even lower your blood pressure. Whilst it’s best to do this in a quiet and safe space, I have also found it helpful to try before an important meeting or phone call, to calm any nerves.
Breathing unites us too – regardless of age, country of origin, skin colour, social status, religious belief, we all need to breathe. In fact all life relies on it. Just think, we share this air with ALL life on this planet. If you can get into even a semi-habit of consciously deep breathing, it can really make a difference for your whole self, improving both your emotional and physical wellbeing. And THAT is the most important thing, because YOU are important.
So, remember to breathe…
Samantha Burton, Chaplain at YMCA DownsLink Group