Breathing. There you go, doing it again. And again. Without even trying.
The air swoops in through your nostrils or through your lightly open mouth and makes its way out again unnoticed for most of the day. Heck, maybe even for most of your life. More often than not, we notice the breath only when it is not there.
Breathing is one of the few processes in the body that is both automatic and can be fully controlled by you. You can let it happen on its own, doing its magic in the background, or you can take active charge of it to create the breath pattern of your choice. Breath patterns are tied to everything we do, feel and think. I invite you to do an exercise with me as you read this: Think about the following emotions or states, one by one, taking a bit of time to imagine them. Start noticing what you do in your body as you think of these states? What tightens up, what relaxes? Where does your focus go? Now pay closer attention to the breath. What is the breath pattern of each of these states? Where do you feel the breath the most, in the belly or chest? Are the inhales or exhales longer? Is the breath fluid or cut up in pieces? What other details can you notice?
Provided that we all have our slight differences in how our breath expresses these emotions, do you notice how the pattern of breath changes dramatically with each state?
Now...why do I find this exciting?
If each state has a corresponding breath pattern AND we have control over our breath if we so wish, that means that we can actively use the breath to create, out of thin air (pun intended), the states we want to be in. To put it more clearly, you are back in charge of your own state and no longer simply along for the ride that your circumstances and nervous system take you on.
The conflict that you are in keeps you in a state of high-strung anxiety? You can, through awareness and practice, down-regulate your breath to a pattern more resembling a state of complete ease. Or do you find yourself often low on energy or too numb to actively partake in your life, the results (or lack of) of which, in turn, keep you awake at night? Up-regulating your breath to a pattern that is closer to an uplifted, joyful state with time might be your lifeline out of the funk you have been in.
Breath is boss.
Put this in the context of sleep, and that means that you can, with time, actively practice placing yourself into the state that you want to be in, in order to help your nervous system relax, shut off and allow you to FINALLY sleep.
Are you now more interested in your breath? Are you aware of it right now?
Good. Keep it up.
Follow me on my Facebook and Instagram pages, as this is where I will soon post concrete videos with breath exercises that will help you locate, understand and reshape your breath, bringing you ultimately to a more regulated, centred YOU. A “you” that will get consistently restful nights.