You read the title, now do it!! ‘Just B-R-E-A-T-H-E!’
No, not just one breath…take at least 3 breaths…
How about 3 slow, deep belly breaths in and long slow exhales out.
Close your eyes and ‘just notice.’
Return to your normal breath.
WHAT DID YOU NOTICE???
Did your shoulders relax (sometimes referred to as ‘lowering your shoulder earrings’)? Did your jaw relax? Did your hands unclench? Did you have to shake your head a bit to bring yourself back to your ‘normal’ awareness? Did you find yourself smiling? If these sensations are new or foreign to you, it’s called ‘relaxation!!’
In that less than 30-second exercise in ‘mindfulness,’ you reset your autonomic nervous system to a ‘rest and digest mode’ vs. ‘alert’ mode. Alert mode in essence is fight, flight, freeze mode, during which your adrenals switch from sending ‘feel good’ hormones like serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin to sending ‘alert’ hormones like cortisol and adrenaline into our body to ‘protect’ you. Protect you from what you might ask? Protect you from ‘real’ or ‘imaginary’ threats to your safety.
Many of our days find us running on ‘auto-pilot,’ which is excellent if we had to deal with saber-tooth tigers around every corner. Not sure when any of us last faced a ‘real’ saber-tooth tiger vs our countless ‘imaginary’ tigers like oversleeping and having to start our day in a rush, getting stuck in traffic, over-committing, facing a hungry family because you forgot to defrost something for dinner, facing a performance review, and the like.
Our bodies don’t know the difference unless we engage our consciousness to shut out the ‘imaginary’ tigers which in turn shuts down the ‘alert’ hormones, and replaces them with ‘calming, feel-good’ hormones calming hormones. AHHHH…doesn’t that feel better?
One way we can do that is through ‘consciously’ breathing for a few minutes a couple of times a day.
The act of breathing is on auto-pilot, as is our digestive, nervous, circulatory, and other bodily systems that bring us life. Our body blueprint has made it easy for us to live. However, the great minds in medicine tell us that living involves stress and stress is causing ‘dis-ease’ (disease or imbalance) in our bodies. The ‘dis-ease’ manifests itself in the form of an ulcer, suppressed immune system, habits that over time don’t serve us well (over-eating or drinking, sleeping too much or too little), angry outbursts, etc.
By ‘consciously’ breathing we engage our brain to focus on the act (and art) of breathing. This focused action is very healthful and helpful to our overall well-being in that moment to calm and relax us, reset our attitude, and even help us sleep, It also supports the growth of new brain cells (neuroplasticity) for long-term positive brain health.
Our brain is designed to always be ‘doing/thinking’ something.
If you’re thinking negatively about yourself or someone else, once you realize that you’re doing that, ‘STOP’ and ‘Just BREATHE consciously’ for a couple of breaths to reset your brain.
PRACTICE MAKES PERMANENT
Now let’s bring the 4 Life Lessons to life. Consider putting 3 elastic bands on one wrist. Each time you go through the steps of stopping to observe, resetting your brain to positive, taking a conscious breath to reset, acknowledging this positive action and continuing with your day, move an elastic band to the other wrist. Voila. At the end of the day, smile because you’re well on your way to creating a habit to de-stress and take charge of your life, health and well-being because the 3 elastic bands will be on the other wrist, which is the goal.
Let me know how implementing the 4 Life Lessons has supported you.