Breath is the sign of life or lack thereof. We have so many sayings regarding breath, i.e. “don’t hold your breath for xyz to happen”, “a sigh of relief”, or “took my breath away”.
Interesting, isn’t it? Why has breath become such a big part of manners of speech? It probably started because we all need to breathe, we all know the feeling of stress and shortness of breath, we all know the joy of a sigh of relief, or the sound of a baby’s first breath. So what does your breath mean to you and can you use it to calm and settle yourself down or garner strength for the next push? Take a moment to think about it, and maybe jot some notes down.
For me, breath became a powerful reminder not to take life for granted. Watching my own boys take their first breath, hearing my granddaughter’s first cry, was so very powerful… and filled with awe, wonder and joy. Listening to my mom’s breath slow as she was passing, willing her to take one more breath, filled me with a shortness of breath in a very powerful and thought provoking way.
What does breath stimulate in your body? Obviously we need oxygen to live. We need to
replenish the oxygen in our bloodstream to keep going. What most people don’t know though is that
breath and breathing also has a profound impact on your nerve-system, the sympathetic/parasympathetic balance, or what we in our office refer to as the gas pedal / brake pedal action of your system.
Right now as you are reading this, take a breath and hold it for as long as you would like. How did it make you feel? Jot some notes down. Did it make you uncomfortable? Maybe even slightly anxious? Now take a deep breath and slowly let it out. How did that make you feel? Write a few notes down on that. Did it give you a sense of relief? A sense of calm? Based on the feelings you experienced, can you guess what part of your nerve-system you activate with the in breath and the out breath? If you guessed in is gas, and out is brake, you are correct.
Here are the 3 things I want you to take away from this.
- BREATHE. Do some breathing exercises. One simple exercise is box-breathing. Imagine your breath being equal parts – breathe in, hold, breathe out, hold. You can do it in counts of 3, 4, 5, and up. Another one is this: breathing in deeply and when you think you don’t have more room, sip in a little more, then breathe out slowly. When you think you are done, push out that last little bit stuck in the recesses of your lungs. Be mindful of your breath, especially when you feel anxious.
- YOUR BREATH AFFECTS YOUR NERVE SYSTEM. When you get adjusted, it is an input to help your brake pedal engage. You can build on and support your nerve system by being mindful of your breath, thus improving the outcome of your care.
- SHARE this information with the people you know and love! If they are on the gas pedal, encourage them to get in to get their nerve system checked, and encourage them to be mindful of their breath.