How often have you sat and watched a baby breathe and been envious of how beautiful and effortless they breathe deep down from the belly? We begin our lives breathing from the belly, allowing our lungs to mature and nourish every fiber of our being. We grow and begin to be taken up by the day-to-day chaos we know as life, forgetting to take in those nourishing deep breaths throughout the day to keep ourselves in balance and harmony.
When I began my meditation and energy medicine self care practices over 15 years ago, I gained a new understanding of the importance of using the breath to nourish my body. I had gotten so used to moving through my own life using chest breathing that I never considered the importance of truly taking in a deep cleansing breath and allowing the inspiration to fill my entire being with healing energy and release whatever was of concern to my body, mind and spirit on the expiration.
By practicing to use the breath in this way, I was able to experience being more connected with the Earth’s healing energy, feeling more in tune with my body, mind and spirit. This lead to feeling more centered and grounded and attuned to those areas that needed a little more attention to help me feel whole, vibrant and more at peace.
I’ve experienced and use a few different breath techniques to restore feeling balanced and harmonized on a daily basis depending on what is occurring in my life. One technique I use is the Jin Shin Jyutsu 36 breath practice. You begin by counting your exhalations (one exhale, inhale, two exhale, inhale etc.) Continue counting until you have completed 36 breath counts. If you lose count, begin again. As you practice this technique, your breathing will become deeper and more rhythmic. This technique can be completed all at once or done throughout your day in four counts of nine. Many of my clients have found this helpful with reduction or elimination of pain and anxiety.
Another breathing technique that I share with my patients is 4-7-8 breathing. Sit upright in your chair or lie down comfortably. Check in with your body, from the souls of your feet to the top of your head. Notice any areas that may need a little attention. Take in a nice deep breath from deep down in your belly to the count of four. Hold that breath to the count of seven, if you are able to do so. Then, release the breath to the count of eight, visualizing or experiencing releasing that which does not serve you at this moment in time. Do this breathing technique four times and notice how calm and relaxed your body and mind have become. Go ahead, try it, just now! This is a technique that I learned from Dr. Andrew Weil’s practice.
Whatever you do, remember that the breath we breathe each day does more than keep us on this earthly plane, it helps to restore balance and harmony in our lives. Deep breathe, dear ones, deep breathe!