Your Breath as Medicine
Breathing is more than an automatic act of survival, it is the key to your health and sense of well being. The Chinese say that “breathing is 100 times more important than medicine”.
Why? Because when you take care of your breath you take care of every cell in your body. You oxygenate your blood better, which better supports your brain, and you take in more vital energy or chi. And it is chi that keeps you alive. How you take in that chi can make the difference between feeling truly alive, vibrant and healthy, or just being alive and functional without any personal sense of vitality.
Deep Breathing Facts
The more air you take in, the more chi you draw into your body. Your cells like it when you breath deeply and steadily, they get all the vital energy and oxygen they need to regenerate well and take care of the details of your health.
In the 1930s, Nobel Prize winner Dr. Otto Warburg discovered that cancer cells do not thrive in an environment that is well oxygenated. Ayurveda (the ancient science of life) teaches that a lack of oxygen at a cellular level could be a significant factor in the cause of cancer. In China cancer patients are encouraged to practice deep breathing for several hours a day which reportedly resolves their cancer in the majority of cases.
Your Breath and Your Mind
Shallow breathing is an automatic response to anxiety, when you train yourself to breath deeply in the face of stress or anxiety, you are signalling to your mind that everything is OK. And as a direct result, you will feel OK. This may sound like a simple platitude, but it’s a fact and it can easily be proved by experience.
It may take some practice to get your breathing deep and steady, and it may take further practice to consistently remind yourself to deepen and lengthen your breath at the slightest whiff of worry or stress, but if you do, you will feel the benefits very quickly.
How to Use Your Healing Breath
The easiest way to get started in working with your breath to improve your health and resilience to stress, is to work with someone who already knows what to do.
There are plenty of books around on the matter of breath work, but it’s easier to be shown, or guided through the process, then you can just get on with the experience rather than trying to figure out what to do from a page of instructions.
One popular breathing exercise is called the Relaxing Breath, (sometimes called the 4-7-8 breath, due to the pattern of counting and holding the breath) it’s great for getting used to breathing deeply, and works well for reducing stress and anxiety. It’s also effective for relaxing into a restful sleep at the end of the day.
You can download a free MP3 that talks you through the relaxing breath exercise here...
*UPDATE* Our new collection of breathing exercises for relief from stress and anxiety is now available in the iTunes Music Store...