Stress is something we deal with everyday in a variety of forms, it can be good stress or bad stress. To achieve a stronger body we workout and stress our muscles to develop them. To become more flexible we stretch our muscles and create a different type of stress to our body. These are examples of good stress that we desire for positive results. The stress of anxiety, fear, sadness, anger, negative emotions, etc., are stresses that undermine our happiness and effectiveness as a human being. Negative stress can be created for us by events we have no control of, thus, making it necessary to find relief and balance to function optimally.
In either form of stress, positive or negative, there is a technique that brings one to a sense of control and balance needed for harmony of mind and body. If there is harmony of mind, then where can stress live in the body or the mind? It can't. The technique is so simple it eludes attention from the vast majority of people. So simple yet the smallest amount of practice reveals fantastic results. What is this technique?
Breath awareness and control of flow can cause some of the most positive feelings one can experience. We never think about the breath very much, it's one of our body functions that will continue until we breathe our last breath. The unique thing about it is, if we give it some attention and manipulate it a bit, the results are undeniably remarkable for stress relief.
First, let's become familiar with chest anatomy
and function. We have the chest cavity which contains the heart
surrounded by 2 lungs . Below the heart and lungs is where the diaphragm
is situated horizontally.
This is the mechanism that allows us to inhale and exhale. Let's take a moment and look at the way we breathe to see if it is being done correctly. Take a short breathe in and watch to see if your abdomen (stomach) goes in or out as you inhale. Try it again, slowly to the count of four, 1....2...3...4.... now out to the same count 1...2...3...4... well? Did it go in or out as you inhaled? If you said it went in as you inhaled then you are breathing incorrectly and need to train yourself in proper breathing. If you said it went out as you inhaled then most of the simple technique is understood. The function of the diaphragm is to rise up and down, as it goes down the air is sucked into our lungs. To do this, the contents of our abdomen needs to move out of the way and allow the diaphragm to come down. When we exhale, the diaphragm goes up and pushes the air out, thus the abdomen comes in to assist lifting the diaphragm.
If you look at small children and the way their
abdomen hangs out it is because they have not lost the
correct breathing technique. This technique is lost to the army that says "suck it in" and to the fashions of the time where thin and six pack abs are the way to be. An easy way to retrain your breathing is to lie down on the floor or bed and practice breathing correctly by consciously thinking and physically practicing pushing the abdomen up as you inhale and letting it fall (sink) as you exhale. Do this slowly by counting to four on the inhale and follow the exhalation with the count of four, slowly. You can use whatever counting technique you want, if you want to count to four with the inhale and count 5,6,7,8 with the exhalation that's fine too. The point is to have some sort of consistent time span for the inhalation and exhalation.
This being understood and one is able to comfortably
breathe in and out correctly, we can practice the simple technique. Take
5 to 10 minutes and just sit in a chair, not leaning on the back but with
your back straight and unsupported. Close your eyes and begin by focusing
your attention on your breathing. Watch
the breath move in and out and observe that your abdomen is moving out with the inhalation and in with the exhalation. Now, start the count to four with the inhalation and as you exhale count to four. Watch the movement and observe how the mind becomes calm. As you become more comfortable you may notice
you can increase your count time to six in and six out. Practice slowly, don't be in a rush. If you stop and do
this right now for 5 minutes you will open your eyes and notice a sense of calm unpossessed prior to
practice. You may not want to open your eyes and enjoy the feeling :)
This technique can be practiced anytime and anywhere.
Do it when you are walking or sitting in your vehicle at a stop light.
Practice every time you think of it. If you practice breathing slower and
breathes throughout the day the benefits will be reaped. Practice, practice, practice, watch the breath and you watch yourself.
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