Breathe Your Way Through

by Kammaleathahh Livingstone, LMBT NC #4044

Breathing is rich with meaning, integrated into everything we do, feel, and think. Multiple traditions tout it as the fundamental tool for quieting the mind, and keeping the body vital and vibrant. As many say: The Breathe – sits right on the point between voluntary and involuntary patterns of our body.

Breathing is a dynamic process that impacts our entire selves. It effects:

  • Our nervous systems and the functioning of our brains
  • How well we digest our food
  • Our posture and how we express ourselves to the outside world
  • How sensitive we are to pain
  • How tired or energized we feel
  • The amount of trigger points in our muscles, especially in the neck, shoulders, and thorax
  • Our ability to calm ourselves down from negative emotions and thoughts
  • Most importantly, our ability to know the true nature of our minds

The diaphragm – the main muscle for breathing –  is like a large umbrella whose stem attaches to the front of the lumbar spine (your lower back) and all around the lower ribs. It also connects to the pericardium of the heart (the sac that contains the heart). It is a double dome, each one fitting nicely under each lung. It moves down on inhalation and springs up when you breath out. The primary movement that ignites inhalation is the diaphragm.

The diaphragm on your inhale pushes on the liver and stomach which in turn pushes on the rest of the organs; in this way, you are massaging your organs.

The diaphragm is an essential tool to lengthen your spine, helping to give more space in between your vertebral discs, and drawing in fluid into the disc material.  With all our sitting these days, length in the spine is the key ingredient to avoid spinal dysfunction.

Different styles of breathing produce different psycho-physiological results. “Belly breathing” stimulates the parasympathetic system through the vagus nerve and sends the body into a quiet, reflective state.  Breathing in the upper chest awakens the sympathetic system, sending signals to the body to be alert, ready for actions. This state lends itself to be associated with more negative emotions – fear, anger, and grief.

So, when you get home from a long day of work, sit down for even five minutes and slowly settle your mind. Sit upright so your spine is straight. Take a long deep breath. Without following your thoughts, wondering “what am I going to cook for dinner?”, just settle into your breathe and simply know that are you breathing in.

When you exhale, simply know that you are breathing out. Do not follow your thoughts. Let your emotions and thoughts rise and fall like the waves of the ocean. Just keep spacious focus on the gentle inhale and exhale. Guaranteed this can get you through anything that happens to you. All it takes is some mindfull awareness and the benefits of the breath abound. Breathe your way through!

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