By Pacific Quest
Decelerate headaches, improve your health, boost your energy—all this and more with a free, powerful tool you have access to each and every day: your breath. Breathing is referred to in clinical terms as an involuntary action of the human body. With all the busyness of the go-go-go modern society, it comes as a relief that amidst jobs, school, friends and family obligations we don’t also have to add breathing to our list of “to-do’s.”
Imagine, though, consciously breathing. Imagine taking what is known as an involuntary action of the human body and garnering it with intention. It would turn an act of survival (involuntary breathing) into an act of powerful living (intentional breathing). At Pacific Quest, our therapeutic wilderness program is committed to helping troubled youth adapt the skills necessary for powerful living. That includes focus on breathing.
Breathing is vital to good health, so it is worthwhile to consider whether you’re breathing correctly or not. Often we lapse into shallow breathing which is increasingly more shallow when anxiety or stress takes over our daily lives.
Shallow breathing has adverse affects on the entire circulatory system of the body. To breathe shallow means you’re not utilizing the full capacity of your lungs and taking in enough breath to reach the bottom of the lungs. It is at the bottom of the lungs where the richest, most purified oxygen is stored.
Deep, controlled breathing utilizing the muscle under your rib cage (the diaphragm) sends a message to your nervous system that all is calm and well. Shallow breathing doesn’t get down deep enough to trigger the diaphragm and thus your body gets the message that things aren’t okay. This leads to more shallow breathing, more anxiety, less sleep, poor skin, malnourishment, poor posture, impaired emotions, and on and on and on. It’s not good.
But you can improve your entire system creating a powerful, awesome body with a crucial element: intentional breathing.
Steps to Improve Your Breathing:
1. Take Note of How You Breathe: Take some time to pay attention to how you are currently breathing in different situations: right before sleep, after exercising, during n test, when you’re sad, when you’re angry, when you’re happy. It seems simple, but it is difficult to remember to take note because breathing is not forefront in our consciousness.
2. Practicing Breathing: It sounds funny, but it really is crucial to practice good technique when you want to transform your life by intentionally breathing. Try setting aside three different times during the day to sit and breathe with intention. For instance, when you awake, before dinner and before bed. Take three counts to breathe in through your nose and three counts to breathe out through your nose. After 10 rounds, you’re finished with your breath practice.
3. Breathe to Live: After you have been practicing breathing in 3-round cycles for a week, you will have a better understanding of what intentional breathing can give you: calm, clear-thinking, relaxation (let alone all the inner benefits you can’t necessarily see: positive nervous system signals, healthy oxygenated blood flow, etc). With your free tool for a healthier life you can tap into the power of your own breath throughout your day: when you’re in conversation, before you make decisions, after eating, in the shower, etc.
Another step to healthy breathing is considering the air you breathe. The Pacific Quest wilderness treatment program is situated in a location overflowing with clean, unpolluted air. Returning to cities or homes with various pollutants (smog, pets, smoke, etc.) can make intentional breathing a challenge. Consider choosing to spend time in areas where the air is clear as well as investing in an air purifier in spaces where you spend a lot of time (ie, a bedroom) but where clean, fresh air is limited.
We consider breathing a pillar of health as it contributes to more than just survival, since deep, slow breathing creates a transformed, healthier person.