Self-Help Techniques

[Download the self-help technique fact sheet on Breathing]

We invite you to breathe.

We ask you to intentionally pause the ongoing demands and stresses you are experiencing in your life right now,
bring your attention inward and rediscover that place of peace and calm that already resides within you.

Pause and just breathe!

Conscious attention and engagement with our own breath connects us with the intelligence and power of the life force that is inherent in each living being.

You may be thinking to yourself that you already know how to breathe and indeed you do! Breathing is an automatic function of the central nervous system. Automatic implies “independent” of the conscious mind. However, the breath is the only part of automatic nervous system that you can consciously control.

The breath is the leader.

Breathing is so crucial to your body’s ability to heal and sustain itself that Dr. Andrew Weil says, “If I had to limit my advice on healthier living to just one tip, it would be simply to learn how to breathe correctly.”

Stress is a natural part of lives, we all experience it and our bodies have a built mechanism to respond to it called fight/flight/freeze. When the body is in this state of alarm, a cascade of hormones is released into the blood stream. Some of the effects that these hormones have on your body are:

The purpose of the fight/flight/freeze response is to prepare the body to fight or run away. It is a survival mechanism for real physical threats. It becomes a problem when the stress is constant or the physical threat is gone, but the emotional memory of the threat is stuck in the body and the body is not able to recover from it. Our nervous system is then like an engine racing in overdrive. In time, the body systems break down.

When we turn out attention to the breath and the breath rhythm, dramatic physiological and emotional changes can occur. Breathing is the key factor in moving a body out of a state of fight/flight/freeze into a balanced state of rest/relax/repair. This response allows the heart rate to slow, lowers the blood pressure, increases the digestive processes and conserves energy. It’s like the brakes on a car, slowing the engine to a smooth, steady pace.

The health you enjoy today, and for the rest of your life, begins with your next breath.

The breathing techniques we are focusing on are Abdominal (Belly) breathing and The Complete or Three Part Breath. Abdominal Breathing is a simple, effective and powerful technique for relaxation that can be practiced anytime and anyplace. It may be done standing sitting, or lying down. It is easiest to learn lying down and of course it is the most relaxing way. The most important aspect is that you are relaxed, the belly is soft and the energy is allowed to flow in the spine. Keep the breath steady and gentle without any strain. If at anytime you feel dizzy or lightheaded, discontinue the practice and allow the breath to return to normal.

Abdominal Breathing

When you are comfortable with the Abdominal Breathing, you can add the next two parts to make it a complete Three-Part Breath. You are utilizing the full lung capacity. The chest muscles and the lungs may not be used to such expansion, so be alert to any strain or dizziness. It may even feel as thought you cannot move the rib cage…just make the attempt. Stress and strain will erase the good effects from the breathing practice. Be gentle with yourself and don’t worry if you are doing it right. With time and practice, you will be able to enjoy breathing in this way.

breath-3

Part One: (as above in Abdominal Breathing)

Part Two:

Part Three:

Start gradually with about 4 breaths and slowly work your way up to 10 breaths. NEVER strain or force the breath and if you need a small breath in between, please do so. Eventually, try to make the exhale twice as long as the inhale to enhance the relaxation response. It may take practice getting comfortable with the Abdominal Breathing before The Three-Part Breath can be accomplished. Be kind and gentle with yourself, take your time and practice.

[Download the self-help technique fact sheet on Breathing]