BREATH TO FIND CALM
A meaningful and simple ritual 365 days a year
You don’t need a gym, equipment or online course to do this. You already have everything you need to do this. And if you’ve practiced conscious breathing three days in a row, you don’t even need a reminder for the remaining 362 days.
We all know the advice before taking the stage for an important presentation or exam: straighten your shoulders and take a deep breath.
Many of us are currently in constant stress mode. Breathing consciously for a few minutes helps to relieve panicky tension and gain strength.
In Zen Buddhism and Yoga, conscious breathing has been practiced for thousands of years. There, breathing is of central importance for meditation as well as for the preparation and conclusion of yoga exercises.
Yoga and meditation represent their own fascinating worlds. This is about the practical application of conscious breathing, which we can all implement in everyday life without extensive prior knowledge:
First thing in the morning
Conscious breathing can be practiced very well in the early morning. Ideally, before the daily to-do list begins, before emails are checked, before the bathroom radio announces the latest news, and before the next expert podcast or daily crisis round begins.
Breathing consciously for just a few minutes helps you to be able to face the rest of the day with all its demands a little more relaxed.
It’s that easy
You just have to make the door behind you for few minutes. An exercise mat, a blanket or a pillow are sufficient. Ideally you should wear light sports clothing and be barefoot. An open window with fresh morning air is ideal.
With your head in the here and now
Sounds like a contradiction at first glance. But we are all rarely in the here and now in our heads. Our thoughts wander incessantly into the future or into the past: we think, we plan, we weigh up, we decide or we are afraid. We remember, we reflect, we evaluate possible alternatives that we might have taken, or we get annoyed about things that are long past.
With conscious breathing, the focus is exclusively on the here and now, in the current second, in the current minute.
Stand upright with both feet close together and parallel. The shoulders are stretched back, the arms hang down parallel to the body, the fingers are straight. The head is erect, as if an invisible thread were pulling you up, the chin is relaxed.
The body consciously assumes a very upright, tense posture.
Close your eyes and focus on balancing first. If you do the exercise every morning, you’ll find that it’s easier or harder to balance with your eyes closed with varying degrees of difficulty each day.
Then, with your eyes still closed, begin to consciously sense your surroundings. Do you notice a slight breeze? Can you feel the sun on your skin? Do you hear birds or car noises? Breathing consciously does not mean removing oneself from existence, but on the contrary, being very conscious in the here and now.
Now start breathing consciously. Consciously draw in air through your nose and breathe out through your open mouth for longer and longer periods of time. Try to increase the amount of time you fill your lungs with oxygen and exhale for as long as you can.
If you have consciously breathed in this way 5 times and been in the here and now, you have achieved a great deal. If you have done this breathing exercise for a few days in a row, the desire to extend it beyond 5 conscious breaths will increase by itself.
Just a few minutes in the here and now
You will notice how your body and mind calm down and how good it is for you to just be in the here and now for a few minutes.
You may be able to feel the effect of this conscious breathing exercise the first time you open your eyes to do yoga exercises, step on the treadmill or go straight to the coffee machine or shower. Sometimes it takes a few days before you can pause with the help of conscious breathing.
However, conscious breathing is not a task that can be achieved more quickly by increasing the pace. The student who asks the Zen master:
“Master, how long do I have to meditate to find peace?” the master replies: “30 years”. The student is startled and turns to the master again with the question: “And if I try twice as hard? If I work hard at it day and night and do nothing else?” The master is silent for
long time and replies: “In this case you will need 50 years”.
This belly breathing is always good. In the evening it helps to let go of the day.
Our gut feeling rarely deceives us. Sometimes the stomach hurts before the head can classify the cause of the stress.
Professional singers are well aware of conscious abdominal breathing. For everyone else, conscious abdominal breathing is a bit unusual at the beginning. It is worth trying this simple but very effective exercise for relaxation and stress reduction.
Assume a relaxed posture while lying on the floor. Place one hand on your stomach, just below your ribs. The other hand is on the chest.
Breathe in through your nose and try to feel your stomach pushing your hand up. Your chest should remain as still as possible. This exercise is all about the stomach.
Now breathe out through your parted lips, almost as if you want to whistle. As you exhale, press your stomach with your hand, as if you want to use the pressure to force the last bit of breath out of your body.
As you inhale into your stomach as your stomach rises, mentally count to 4. Hold your breath and mentally count from 1 to 7. As you exhale, try to empty your lungs as completely as possible, using your hands to breathe out Put pressure on your stomach while mentally counting to 8.
Admittedly, the first few times it takes a little concentration to do this breathing exercise 5 times in a row. But as so often in life, no gain without diligence. Many love this exercise in the evening to let go of the stress of the day, some use the relaxation phase after exercise for conscious breathing.
At GloriousMe, you can rest assured that all of our healthy lifestyle recommendations are based on studies in reputable, scientific publications.
There are also numerous studies in this area, but they were carried out in a medical setting on patients who have suffered burnout or are suffering from depression.
Current studies that have examined the positive effects of conscious breathing on people without any previous illnesses do exist, but the numbers are not extensive enough to meet the scientific guidelines of evidence-based medicine.
Three reasons why it is still worth trying conscious breathing:
They already practice breathing every day, an average of 17,000 – 30,000 times. If there are no health problems, we do not notice our breathing, except in exceptional circumstances. We sometimes lack breath or we hyperventilate.
Why shouldn’t breathing be used consciously in a positive way. You risk nothing trying the stress-reducing effects of conscious breathing.
Conscious breathing plays a central role in Zen Buddhism and Yoga (Pranayama). A historical yoga scripture describes the effect of conscious breathing in yoga as follows:
“As long as we breathe, our mind is on the move, and the mind comes to rest when we hold our breath.”
In the current situation it is beneficial to transform the noise of the world and rushing thoughts into silence for a few minutes with conscious breathing in order to become calmer and to draw strength for many future tasks.
A self-experiment costs you only a few minutes a day and you do not need to invest in sports equipment. We have tried it and would like to recommend these simple but effective breathing exercises to you. A little more mindfulness is beneficial for everyone.