Breathe Well: Use The Force!

Breathe Well: Use the Force!


"Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor" - Thich Nhat Hanh

What is it that makes us tick? I'm not talking hobbies and fantasies here, I'm talking literally. What is it that makes us tick, makes us tock, keeps us going, makes us human, assures us that we're still alive?

"Well, my heart, it's beating", you might say.

Ok, sure. What else?

"I'm breathing", you might say.

Yes, you're reading this article after all, so that's true too.

Now of these two rather essential bodily functions (functions which we often use to define creatures as living rather than not living) which one do we have control over?

That's right, the breath. You see, breathing is the only autonomous system of the body that we can  also control. We can change the length of the breath, the quality and depth of it. We can choose to breath through the mouth, the nose, through alternate nostrils. We can direct the flow of our breath into any part of our bodies for whatever purpose we desire. We can use the breath to ground ourselves, to energise our bodies and minds, to calm our nerves.

According to Alan Dolan, 80% of our energy comes in through our breath. Now that's a lot of fuel. He also claims that 75% of detoxification takes place via the breath. That's a lot of purifying!

Why then, do so many of us leave our breathing apparatus to function on autopilot? If we possess the tools for calming and energising our bodies, for increasing our longevity, and they're right here inside our very own bodies, why do we choose to ignore them?

Perhaps we just feel like we don't have enough time to sit around doing breathing exercises. Perhaps we're just too busy to breathe properly. Perhaps we're too restless and anxious or distracted to even begin to think about sitting down and consciously breathing, exhale, inhale, exhale, inhale...

Ancient yogis believed we only have so many breaths for our life and that by taking slower and deeper breaths we can live for longer, in greater health. If this is the case, then why not take a little time to make a little time? By connecting our minds with our bodies and breath we are better able to feel connected to the world and our place in it. Even if you set aside just five minutes of your day for a breathing practice, it might well just slow your life down enough to make you feel like you've got a few extra hours in the week.

Still not sure? Then I'll hand over to the rather convincing Max Strom, author of A Life Worth Breathing...