Breathe – yeah I know, you’re already breathing. You must be because you’re alive enough to be reading this (or you’re a zombie, and that’s a whole different article.) Chances are though, up until you started reading this, you weren’t paying any attention to your breath.
That’s pretty typical. We take breathing for granted. It’s automatic and we have a bunch of other stuff going on that needs our attention like; checking Facebook, making a living, feeding the family, cleaning the cat box (you probably are aware of your breathing doing this), driving the car, etc.
But, if you’re like most of us, you’re living day to day on shallow, unconscious breaths and that’s not good. That kind of breathing tells your body that you’re stressed. And even if you don’t think you’re stressed, you will be just because of the way you’re breathing. Arrrghhh!!! It’s a Catch-22
So, what’s a body to do?
First, pay attention (see, you’ve already started!)
Then try one of these easy exercises:
1. Breathe in to the count of four, and then breathe out to the count of four. Repeat for as long as you want. Ideally you should do this through your nose, but if you’re all stuffed up through your mouth is just fine.
2. Count your breaths. Sit up straight and be comfortable. Gently close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Then let the breath come naturally without trying to influence it. Now count each time you exhale, up to five. Then repeat one, two, . . . five. You’ll know you’re relaxed and your attention has wandered when you find yourself at eight, 12, or more.
3. My favorite is the 4-7-8 exercise (thank you Dr. Andrew Weil.) Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there through the entire exercise. You will be exhaling through your mouth around your tongue; try pursing your lips slightly if this seems awkward.
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
- Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
- Hold your breath for a count of seven.
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
- This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.
This one can make you a little light headed at first, so don’t try it while driving or base jumping until you’re used to it.
Happy breathing. Practice one or more of these a few times a day and you’ll feel less stress, and have more energy. Energy you can use to play.
Need some help with the playing part? Join me at one of my Playing to Prosper events and reconnect with the joyful, creative spirit you were born with.