The Art of Breathing

The Art of Breathing

[00:00:00] **Aurooba Ahmed:** Well hello, this is The Daily Five with Aurooba. That's me, where we reflect on creating our best lives a little bit every day. Here we go.

[00:00:22] Let's chat about breathing today. For the most part, breathing is part of our autonomic nervous system. It happens involuntarily, and it keeps us alive. However, unlike some of the other functions of the autonomic system, like, say, sweating, or the width of your pupils controlling how much light gets into your eyes, and, say, some parts of the digestive process, we can actually exercise control over our breathing.

[00:00:50] And the effect we have on our breathing patterns cascades into other effects on our bodies, sometimes positive and sometimes not so positive. The most common effect we associate with breathing is The change in our heartbeat. You can slow down your heartbeat by taking long, purposeful breaths. Those kinds of breaths that fill up every corner of your lungs.

[00:01:15] And you can speed it up by taking a lot of quick, shallow breaths that don't fill up your lungs very much. When I was taught to breathe, I was taught what is commonly called box breathing. You take in a deep, purposeful breath through your nose,

[00:01:35] Making sure you are breathing with your belly and not your shoulders for a count of four. And then you hold your breath for a count of four. And then you exhale for a count of four.

[00:01:49] Some people might tell you to breathe out of your mouth or your nose. I find that breathing out of your mouth is more relaxing, but breathing out through your nose is, It has more of a focusing effect. As a teenager, one of my favorite series was The Circle of Magic by Tamora Pierce, and it showed up there as well because it's a common way to teach meditation and the practice of grounding in a lot of cultures and traditions.

[00:02:15] But why are we chatting about breathing today? Well, we're chatting about it because exercising breath control is an essential part of stress management, anxiety management, good hiking, and focus. The reason so many meditation practices start with a focus on breath is because it pulls you into the present moment.

[00:02:37] Why is that? Because, by paying attention to your breath, you begin to exercise control over it, making the involuntary voluntary. Once breathing is part of your voluntary actions, temporarily anyway, it can be difficult to pay attention to anything else. Of course, the struggle of meditation itself stems from not only a mind that tends to be very active, but also the autonomic system wanting to take back control of your breathing.

[00:03:07] That's what makes it a struggle, but the kind of struggle that keeps you in that present moment and helps you ground yourself and can make you feel a little clearer after you've done it for a while. So, this is about yesterday a little bit. We talked about reprioritization. We talked about how, you know, everyday life and all the things that it demands of us cause us to sometimes lose sight of our goals and make us not be able to carve out moments and time and enough energy for our goals.

[00:03:43] So, the next time you feel yourself getting swept away by the current of daily life and all its supposed and probably true urgent things, Try setting a timer for, say, five minutes and box breathing. And if you feel like you can't take five minutes to do that, then that's probably a sign that you need it more than ever.

[00:04:05] Because, unless something horrible has happened, and it's an emergency of some kind, and you will know true emergencies from other non true emergencies, I trust that. You can always carve out five minutes, despite what your fight or flight response system is telling you. Because often it's just that, you know, our stress levels ignite our fight or flight system, and then we think, it is an emergency, some part of our mind and body thinks that.

[00:04:36] But we know that's not true, because we do know what a true emergency is. So, a little bit of box breathing might help you when you're trying to reprioritize, like we talked about yesterday.

[00:04:53] Thanks for listening! Same time tomorrow?