We all breathe. That’s what keeps us alive. As per Cleveland Clinic, the breathing rate for an adult at rest is 12 to 20 breaths per minute. We all do it and for most of the time, it’s an unconscious and automatic process. Breathing easily and fully is one of the basic pleasures of being alive. But more often than not, we undermine its power by reducing it only to a process that keeps our vitals functioning. And because of this, we seldom end up breathing properly, thinking that it will take care of itself.
If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath. ~ Amit Ray
Conscious breathing, on the other hand, an important method for maintaining your well-being and mental balance on a daily basis. According to International Breathwork Foundation, conscious breathing is the practice of breathing with awareness, intention and attention to your inner experience, in the present moment. Going beyond survival, conscious breathing acts as a bridge between spirit, mind, and body. It gives us a simple yet effective tool to live a better life.
Here are some of the mental and physical benefits of conscious breathing:
- Conscious breathing brings you to 100% body awareness. It helps you connect and feel your body.
- Conscious breathing helps increase awareness and curiosity.
- Regular practice of conscious breathing can help decrease stress, and move your body towards ease and inner peace.
- Conscious breathing can help reduce fear, worry and anxiety. It can help you sail through daily conflicts and issues by instantly calming your nervous system.
- Conscious breathing helps your mind by giving it enough oxygen, improving alertness, concentration and focus.
- Conscious breathing helps you drop judgement and expectations. It forces you to live in the moment and observe your mind (and the ego.)
- Conscious breathing helps you develop pure patience.
- Conscious breathing helps you in appreciating simplicity in life.
- Practicing conscious breathing on a regular basis can strengthen the lung function and also reduce asthma. It may not be able to reverse all damage or issues, but it can certainly make a difference.
- Conscious breathing can also positively affect the cardiovascular system by improving blood flow and circulation.
- Conscious breathing forces you to breathe through your nose, which is healthier.
- Conscious breathing boosts your immune system.
Breathe. Exhale. Repeat…
Conscious breathing is a teachable process that is easy to learn. It can have a positive influence on many aspects of your life. There are many techniques that vary in duration and intensity, but the one I practice and highly recommend is this: lower your gaze and close your eyes. You can sit or stand. I prefer to sit. Breathe in deeply through your nose. For some people, it might also help to place their left (or right) palm on their stomach as they breathe in and feel the abdomen rise. Then, breathe out slowly through your mouth as if you are blowing out through a straw. As you breathe out make a sound of relief, “aaaah…,” as a long, slow release of breath. Repeat this process for as long or as little time you want. I usually practice this for 3-6 breath cycles, which takes under 2 minutes a day.
What has been your experience with conscious breathing? If you are just starting out after reading this article, how did you feel after the exercise? Do leave your comments below.