Thursday, March 4, 2010

Breathing Phase 1

Practice proper breathing.  Practicing every day builds confidence for when you begin to feel anxious or angry and can use your proper breathing to stay calm.  Proper breathing technique is not as complicated as taught in formal yoga or meditation classes.  Proper breathing technique is to inhale through the nose while expanding the stomach and exhaling first through the mouth and then finishing through the nose.  The description "expanding the stomach" is what you see.  What happens inside your body is that the diaphragm muscle below the lungs gets pulled down and lets the lungs expand so that you can take a deep breath.  Sit so that your back is not supported while you are practicing proper breathing, like you would on the floor or on a stool.  You can sit in a chair and not lean back.

What you don't want to do is try to to take a deep breath by expanding your upper rib cage or chest because the bones block the lungs from allowing you to take a deep breath thus creating a feeling that you can't get a full breath and that's a symptom of anxiety.

You want to find a period of ten minutes or more in the late afternoon or evening when you won't be interrupted.  Sit with your eyes closed to reduce the visual stimulation.  You might want to have paper and pencil handy to write down any thoughts that come to mind while you are practicing proper breathing.  Stop and write down anything that comes to mind that you want to act on later.

While you are sitting with your eyes closed practicing proper breathing, thoughts and feelings will present themselves to you.  Now you begin a process of sorting through these thoughts and feelings.  If one is something you want to remember to act on later then stop and write a very brief reminder.  Other thoughts about events during the day we experience again, as if they were happening in the present.  By naming or labeling these thoughts and feelings we separate our self in the present from the past. Another technique is to visualize something that happened and imagine the scene shrinking or moving away from you.

Begin to practice proper breathing with your eyes open any time you are alone: in the car, walking or waiting for someone.  Turn off the TV for ten minutes and practice proper breathing.

Every day, practice proper breathing.  Above is phase one and will take you days and weeks to develop a regular habit.

Try it and let me know what you think.