Conscious Breathing

Rev. Suzanne Marlatt Stewart

The human body can survive three weeks without food, three days without water, and only three minutes without air.

Our breath is one of our most important healing tools, and possibly one of the most overlooked. Breathing is something you do continually, usually without conscious thought. Because it is so constant, it disappears into the background of your body awareness. When you purposely think about and change your breath, you can speak to the body in very intense ways. Your breath is one of the easiest bridges between the parts of your body that you can control and the bodily functions that are not conscious. It is a biological process that naturally falls into both brackets and so becomes a way for our mind to speak to our body directly.

Deep breathing: When you take a deep breath, it stimulates the vagus nerve and the parasympathetic nervous system. This is the system that calms the body, helping you come out of a feeling of stress and anxiety, and move toward rest, restoration, and healing. It can also help bring a perception of calmness centeredness and overall wellbeing.

Breath awareness: Turning your attention to breathing is a fundamental mindfulness practice. When you pay attention to the flow of air in and out of your body, it cues the mind to tune into the present moment. When you practice mindfulness like this, it can rewire neural pathways in the brain to reduce pain, anxiety, depression, and stress.

Breath in the body: Your breath is also a physical occurrence in the body, engaging a complex array of muscles and tissues and massaging the internal organs. Injuries, surgeries, and persistent stress can change the way the body breathes, which in turn can cause chronic tension and pain. Breathing is an important healing tool that allows you to talk to parts of the body that you cannot reach with the mind alone.

Breathing through your nose filters the air and cleans it so it is ready for use once it enters your lungs. When you mouth breathe the unfiltered air, it can harm your body, leading to inflammation which increases your chances for chronic health conditions like heart disease.

Take a moment right now and think about your breathing.

Are you breathing shallow or are you breathing deep? Are you fully exhaling the old stagnant air before filling your lungs with new clean air? As you begin to take deeper breaths, how does your body feel? What smells begin to reach your awareness as you start to consciously breathe deeper?

“Breathe. Let go. And remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure.”Oprah Winfrey

If you woke up breathing, you have another opportunity to enjoy a new day!

Rev. Suzanne, a resident of SaddleBrooke, is an independent writer and speaker. She was ordained nondenominational, representing all faiths, and her focus is inclusivity. Email her at [email protected].