“Breathe”: A simple word, a simple mantra. A not so simple practice.

“Breathe,” we were born doing it but for some reason, so many of us have forgotten how to actually do it the older we’ve gotten. Whether it be from the weight of the daily stresses we adults encounter or the fact that we just don’t think of it consciously enough anymore because we were born innately doing it. Either way, somewhere along the way, many of us have lost our ability to just breathe.
It may be a simple word but it comes with so much meaning to me. I repeat this word at least 100x a day as a means of dealing with my anxiety and reminding myself to center at the moment and relax. If you are an anxious person like me, you often spend the day tensed up somewhere in your body and/or mind (mostly unconsciously) as we are “constantly waiting for the bear to pop out from behind a tree.”
*Right now, right this instant… while you’re reading this I want you to take two seconds and do this:
 *Now take a deep breath. Feel better? Ok, moving on…

Breathing seems so simple but even as someone who meditates every morning, I am still mastering how to do it consciously. I tend to hold my breath for long periods of time throughout the day without even recognizing it. We, humans, live sooooo fast. In technology we design innovative new ways to get things done faster than normal; we speed to get where we want—everything, everything seems to be done with such urgency. Living like this, it’s no wonder it’s so hard to be in tune and aware of our body’s needs to release tension and focus our minds on the moment or positive thoughts. 

This is why things like yoga and meditation are so beneficial because they involve moments of deep breathing along with mind/body work which in turn helps us to relax, be present at that moment and breathe circulation into our bodies. Having a good mantra to help you remember to breathe at certain times throughout your day when you’re not deep in meditation and yoga is also an amazing way to help remind yourself to be in the moment and allow oxygen to flow throughout your body. If you’re not aware of what a mantra is, tap the word ‘mantra’ to read a great article I found explaining the science and benefits behind it by the Yoga Journal. 

Having a mantra or mantra(s) helps you to be mindfully aware of those moments you need to release the stress. Deep breathing is the practice you can do at any time to help facilitate it. Deep breathing has been clinically proven to aid in both physical and mental health. It is a simple grounding technique that releases toxins and the greatest part is… we each possess this tool to use already!

Think about a breathing baby when they’re asleep soon after they’re born. Have you ever watched their little bellies bounce up and down in such a sweet, slow rhythmic way? Babies naturally breathe the correct way. Deeply through their lungs and down to their belly. Somehow along the way, as we’ve turned into adults, we’ve settled for the short breaths instead. Those that don’t really pump the amount of oxygen we actually need to our lungs and definitely not to our brains.
I have a reminder on my phone that reads “breathe” that goes off every hour to remind me to stay calm and grounded in the present moment and to BREATHE deeply. It represents other things too like: being true to myself; to keep going, and to continue living each moment with a grateful heart. It also reminds me to release the tension in my body that I unknowingly keep like the quick technique we did at the beginning. 
It’s important to know that every moment happens from seconds to minutes. So for just one moment, take one deep breath at a time, focus on that, and then keep going. An awesome and simple breathing technique for coherence I like to practice is called “box breathing” it goes as follows:                   
Inhale 4 seconds (through the nose)
Hold breath 4 seconds
Exhale 4 seconds (through the mouth)
Hold breath 4 seconds
Repeat 4 times.

As you inhale think and imagine positive energy coming in and when you exhale do the same thing in regards to negative energy flowing out. The next time you feel your palms start to sweat, your nerves begin to stir or your thoughts begin to race — try it! It’s important to be kind to yourself if your mind starts to wander— just gently bring it back! It’s also perfectly OK if it doesn’t work out properly the first time or even the second time. The point is that you are trying and the more you try, the more intentional you become and the more effective it will be. 


Photos by Tina Leu Fotos (www.tinaleu.com)
Box Breathing Diagram by ebbonyandlune.com
Moran, Susan. “The Science Behind Finding Your Mantra and How to Practice It Daily.” Yoga Journal, 20 Mar. 2018, www.yogajournal.com/yoga-101/mantras-101-the-science-behind-finding-your-mantra-and-how-to-practice-it.