by Keith Paine

This month, I’d like to ask you to focus on the way you breath. Most of us never stop to think about breathing—it’s automatic, right? It is, fortunately, but there are different ways of drawing a breath, which depend on the situation we’re in. When we’re stressed or in an emergency, we react by engaging our shoulders to lift the rib cage and “help” oxygen in. We’re in fight or flight mode, and we need as much air as we can get. Many of us continue to breath this way, however, even when we’re not in a stressful situation.

Move your breath out of your shoulders and into your torso, and you can reduce your stress immediately. Begin by feeling your rib cage and abdomen expand. Instead of breathing by contracting your shoulder muscles again and again, you’re engaging your diaphragm to create space for your breath. You’re out of fight or flight mode, and into rest and repair. Just by moving your breath, you’re taking tension out of your neck and shoulders, and re-oxygenating your blood in a much more efficient way.

Sit in a comfortable position, with your spine long. Sit away from the chair back or bench, so your rib cage has plenty of space to move. Place your hands on your rib cage, and visualize your breath moving through your rib cage into your lower torso. Consciously slow your breath down, lengthening the space between each breath. Don’t strain, and don’t take too much air. Practice this for 5-10 minutes a day, focusing on your breath, on you, instead of everything else around you. It will have a significant calming and centering effect.

If you would like to learn more, I invite you to join me on Friday, October 15th at Nimble Fitness where I will be guiding a group meditation and performing music from my new CD, Sunyata.