I have a client that I have been working with on and off over the course of the years. Without going deeply into her story, one issue that has resurfaced over and over again is anxiety. While she has responded quite well to medication, she continues to seek out additional ways to stay on top of it.
After my morning run today, I received an email from her. It was this elaborate exercise to help combat anxiety. I am all for whatever gets you results (provided it is healthy and the science is good), but I had to ask her why is she looking for a miracle and ignoring the magic. The magic I am referring to is breathing. I was a crisis counselor for 2 decades. In almost every situation that I responded to, getting the client to control their breathing, changed the trajectory of the moment.
When we breathe deep, things become clearer. It is simple biology. The art and science of meditation and deep breathing have long been studied and proven to be effective for many things.
The shortlist to the benefits of deep breathing are:
• Calms anxiety
• It is a natural pain killer
• Relieves stress
• Promotes mental clarity
• Improves blood flow
• Increases energy
And the list goes on. What is important to know about deep breathing is that anyone can do it. You do not need formal training. Simply breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth. Do this several times a day. As it is said that habits form in about 21 days, try adding this simple technique to your daily regiment, and watch what happens.
I have been meditating for over 30 years. It was introduced to me while I was taking karate as a young child. In many ways, the person that I have become today is due to my meditation practice. The art of slowing down has opened me up to greater patience, which has led me to feel in control. I cannot think of a single circumstance in my life that didn’t work out for the best before I meditated on it. Not one. On the other hand, many mistakes have been made when I did not practice the pause. There is power in the pause. And that power comes from controlled breathing.
There is a reason why doctors say take a deep breath before you get a shot. There is a reason why snipers use controlled breathing before firing their weapons. It is called the respiratory pause. The pause is when the sniper is most relaxed, thus increases their chances of being on target. There is a reason why people count to 10 when they are mad. It’s all about inducing the relaxation response. And the more in tune with breath we are, the more likely we will be relaxed and feel in control.
We tend to complicate things. There doesn’t always need to be some grand experience or exercise that will bring this result. There are times when dealing with anxiety that medication will make sense. That is a conversation that you should have with your doctor. And yet there will be times where we simply overthink things. And the more we think, the grander we feel the remedy. It is in these times that I remind my clients to stop looking for the miracle, and stop ignoring the magic.