The Gift of Breathing Through It
If I could only count how many times some has told me to breathe... I would be a millionaire. Whether it has been my parents trying to calm me when I was anxious, or my fiancé consoling me when I’m sad, or even my yoga instructor as I hold and move through difficult postures - someone is always reminding me to breathe.
"Remind? Don't we breathe automatically?" you may ask. Well yes, but I am not talking about every day breathing as your sit at your desk, I am referring to mindful breathing. The breathing I practice when I am feeling anger, or fear, or pain, or joy, or passion, or love, or shame, or guilt. I have learned how to sit with these emotions, especially the uncomfortable ones, and face my problems head on, rather than running for cover.
Mindful breathing increases comfort, relaxation, pleasantness, vigor and alertness, and reduced symptoms of arousal, anxiety, depression, anger, and confusion as shown through research published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. Practicing mindful breathing during recovery from an addiction or simply to manage daily stress can be beneficial for anyone. When we are intentional about our breathing - what it opens, what is closes, how it feels, and what we hope to gain or let go - our perspectives change.
Are you ready to give it a try?
Take a deep breath in through the nose noticing how it is expanding your lungs and your belly, and deep sigh out through the mouth noticing how it is constricting your lungs and your belly.
Again, take in a deep breath through the nose and notice the cool air travel to your lungs, and then let out a warm sigh out through the mouth.
One more time, deep breath inhaling love, and deep breath out exhaling fear.
Mindful breathing can change how we cope with whatever life throws at us. What was once an overwhelming flood of emotions can now be managed in calm seas. By breathing through it and sitting with it, we gain gifts; we learn from our experiences and we learn from our emotions. What gifts will you receive the next time you breathe through it?
8 Basic Emotions & Their Gifts:
Anger - Assertiveness, Strength Energy
Fear - Preservation, Wisdom, Protection
Pain - Healing- Growth, Awareness
Joy - Abundance, Happiness, Gratitude
Passion - Appetite, Energy, Excitement
Love - Connection, Life, Spirituality
Shame - Humility, Containment, Humanity
Guilt - Values, Amends, Containment
Written by Natalie Rothwell, LCSW, Primary Counselor at Focus Treatment Centers, Chattanooga, TN