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  • Rita Andryushchenko

The Power of Breath

 “The majority of us are not using our lungs to their full capacity and we’re starving our brain and our body of its vital life force. When we change our capacity to breathe fully, we change our body to its cellular level.” – Carly Rae 


It’s never been more critical to slow down and breathe.


We live in a world where "faster is better." Our lives are measured by the relentless pursuit of efficiency, effectiveness, achievements, and financial gains, amidst the constant whirlwind of daily tasks and activities. The hamster wheel of life never stops. We define ourselves not by who we are but by what and how much we do.  


From early morning until we close our eyes for the night, technology and other external demands are begging for our attention. Nonstop. Most people even bring their electronic devices into bed with them – we are connected and plugged in even when we think we’re trying to “unplug.” There is a constant leak of our energy through this, causing much more harm than good to our body and mind than we realize.  


Most people struggle to find time to slow down and have no time to be present. Since we are always subconsciously bracing for the next piece of bad news, a “fire” to put out, or are on guard for the next thing to go wrong, our nervous systems are in a constant fight-or-flight state where our muscles are constricted and our breath is shallow. Many of us have even lost the capacity to take a full breath. Many of us don’t even see this as a problem, which is where the deepest disconnect lies. 


The illusion of “not enough time” feeds more and more scarcity of energy and further depletion of our internal resources to support ourselves. “I wish I could meditate, but I have no time” or “I can’t sit still” or “I can’t quiet my mind” are often what people say. The irony of these statements may only be apparent to people who chose to stop themselves in the rat race and actually prioritize getting to know themselves in this way, not because they had the time for it, but because they realized they couldn’t afford to not make the time for it.


Give yourself permission to hit the pause button. Take this moment right here and now to come in contact with your breath and begin to notice its quality.


Where do you feel it in your body most?


Can you tune in and listen inward?


Begin to deepen your breathing by sending your inhales into your belly allowing it to fill up like a balloon and noticing your rib basket expanding in and out to the sides.


Maybe with this, you can begin to notice the sensation of the temperature of your environment on your skin. The touch of your clothes. The support of the seat underneath you.


Perhaps you tune into what smells and aromas you can identify in the air.


Begin to notice the colors around you. The taste in your mouth of perhaps the last thing you consumed. Take a swallow.


Through this moment of slowing down and tuning in, can you allow yourself to take one minute to check in with these separate parts of you and notice the experience that is created? 


The wisdom of our breath offers us an embodied moment of presence. Only in the silence of our breath can we truly begin to listen to what is happening for us in the body. The body has its unique wisdom and usually, it gently nudges us, asking for various resources of support, such as true rest, nourishing food, deeper breaths, safe touch, healthy movement, and appropriate supplementation. However, sometimes our body sets off more severe alarm bells, signaling pain and disease in the body. Unfortunately, this is when most people begin to pay attention, when they have no choice but to.


With the added cost of more worry, more stress, more uncertainty, and gripping fear, this stops us in life’s tracks demanding we start turning towards our bodies’ messages NOW or else. When we disconnect from our bodies, everything suffers; our health, relationships, motivation, performance, and connection to our purpose and mission; everything becomes starved. Plus to counter these things, we begin to do more, push harder, or numb out, which only deepens the problem.  


Does it really have to come to this? What if we learned how to prioritize time with our body, consciously choosing to create safety and giving our body the attention it needs and desires from us?


Our body is the temple that carries our soul and spirit. How do you treat yours? 


Let’s sit together with a mind on the body, attention on the breath, and bring ourselves to stillness and presence, in the Here and Now. Let’s learn together the ancient practices and the new science of the lost art of breathing. It is a powerful medicine that is always with us, and we can learn to use it for the good of everyone.  


The ancient science of breath control is called “Pranayama,” which is an age-old practice that has been in existence and widespread use in India for thousands of years and references to it appear in the yogic texts, such as the Bhagavad Gita and the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali alongside yoga and meditation. When you breathe mindfully, you are beginning to tap into meditation. When you practice yoga intentionally and effectively, you are using your breath to guide your practice and connect to the wisdom of your body. These practices are interconnected; one does not work well without the other. 


There are four basic principles of Pranayama: the inhale, the exhale, the retention of breath on the inhale, and the retention of the empty space on the exhale; and it builds from here. The location of the breath in the body, the internal focus of your mind, the intention you set for utilization of various techniques, the movement or stillness of the body, the appropriate posture, use of voice, cadence, and power of the breath, setting, etc. It can be as involved and as rich as you’d like it to be, and it can also be simple and grounding.  


There are innumerable benefits of Pranayama practices that include an expansive range within the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual/energetic layers of our health. It regulates the nervous system, focuses and clears the mind, allows more effective stress management, oxygenates the vascular system, lowers blood pressure, and grows our capacity for wise response to life’s stimuli rather than reaction. Pranayama cultivates deeper and more present human connections and links us to our life meaning and purpose, in some cases it even cultivates ground to process and heal deep-seated trauma, and many more benefits to such a seemingly simple practice. 


As the world speeds up around us and more demands rise in our lives while technology takes over them, it has never been more critical to reconnect to ourselves: to our hearts, bodies, and souls. The only way we can do this is by slowing down and tuning in to the breath.


Pranayama reaches down through the various layers to penetrate what is true, to reveal what may have been hidden, to become present, and to connect to our lives from the inside out.


Remember that you are the captain of your own life, and you can take responsibility for the power you may have given away to someone or something, whether it is your boss, your job, your kids’ schedules, or any number of things that disempower us from living a rich and truly fulfilling life here and now.

  

Life happens one breath at a time. Here's your invitation to get present with yours.  


SZH Consulting offers Meditation & Breathwork workshops to help busy professionals and leaders recenter and strengthen their inner game. Contact Us to learn how we can help bring this powerful work into your organization!

 

 

 

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