One of the most simplistic and effective ways of easing agitation and breaking the pain-tension cycle that traps us between emotional and physical tension is focused intentional breath work.
Deep breathing and engaging your diaphragm brings necessary movement to the body, aids the processes of internal organs by promoting easeful digestion, urinary, sexual, circulatory, and metabolic function, and activates the parasympathetic nervous system shutting down the fight or flight response built into many daily stressors and larger anxieties.
1. Start by giving yourself a moment of at least 10 seconds. 2. Sit or stand in a comfortable position, and be present with any tension you feel. 3. Allow yourself to feel supported by whatever surface is holding you up. You may wish to close your eyes. 4. Relax your jaw and the space between your eyes. 5. Inhale through your nose, feeling your ribs expand, sending your breath to fill your belly down to your pubic bone. Hold. 6. Exhale slowly, until all the air is released.
If you can prioritize a moment that is longer than the length of a stop light, the grocery line up, the moment before you enter your front door or before falling asleep, or in your seat before beginning an exam, try again. Close your eyes this time and count the seconds it takes to inhale fully. When you exhale, count one second longer. Try this 5 times.
If you experience physical tension or pain, adding visualization is extremely helpful. Once grounded in your breath work, take a moment to imagine a warm light or water flowing gently over your body in a comforting way. Start at your head and imagine that everywhere that warmth touches is relaxed and at ease. Feel your breath deepen.
Open your eyes and be grateful for the moment you’ve given yourself.
Try again tomorrow.
Why do this?
- It feels good
- You’re having trouble focusing and your tension/pain is building
- Your emotional responses may be over reactive
- You feel anxious, nervous, worried, stressed out
- Your stomach hurts
- You’re about to kill your relatives
- Something wasn’t done that you specifically asked for
- You need a time out
- You’re stuck in traffic
- You forgot whether you turned the oven off and can’t turn back
- Because you want to try it
How does it help?
- The physical movement of the thin muscular diaphragm that acts as a barrier between the thoracic and abdominal cavities moves down on the inhale compressing the abdomen, massaging the organs, and creating space for the lungs to expand. This stimulates movement through the body at a cellular level bringing about more effective motility of the organs and circulation of blood, aiding in skin health, immune function, blood pressure, muscle strength and brain clarity.
- Slow concentrated breathing fully oxygenates the cells, ensuring they work optimally, disease free.
- Activates parasympathetic nervous system to calm the body and mind, allowing functions to run smoothly.
- Lifts mood, engaging with endorphins and stress hormones.
By Sage Graves, RMT
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