by Dr. Carol Renaud Gaffney
Ahhhh - - take a slow, deep breath -
- ahhhh. Enjoy this breath. Notice breath
as it enters - - and then as it leaves. Feel breath
come coolly into your nostrils and then feel breath
as it leaves with warmth over your lips or through
your nose. Listen as breath enters - - Ha-a-a-am.
Listen as breath leaves - - S-a-a-a.
Observe breath. Notice where breath goes. Feel
breath enter your lungs - - feel your lungs expand
- - feel breath leave your lungs - - feel your lungs
deflate. With this simple action of breathing,
you have life. Breath - - simple and elegant -
- it does not need to be taught. You can't buy
it at any store, yet with the experience of breath
and breathing, you have a wonderful tool, one
that enables you to recover from daily stress
and the resulting wear and tear on your body and
As you learn more about breath you can learn more
about yourself. As you learn to manage breath
you will be able to manage your thinking, your
moods, and your responses to stress.
Okay now - - find a comfortable position. Place
your right hand on your abdomen so your thumb
is on your navel. Breathe as you usually do. What
happens to your hand? Does it rise or fall as
you breathe in? If it rises, then to some extent
you are breathing abdominally - a healthy, complete
breath. If your hand falls as you breathe in, you
are probably breathing with your chest muscles
and not getting as much from your effort as you
could. It is easier to notice your breathing and
to switch to abdominal breathing when you are
lying on your back.
With a few easy steps and a bit of practice you
can breathe more completely. Place your hand on
your abdomen, covering your navel. Breathe out
first with a big sigh of relief, or like you are
blowing into a balloon. Then give a couple of
"hoo's" when you think you done. Like
this - - hoo, hoo, hoo - - emptying your
lungs a bit more. Do you feel your hand going in?
Now as you let go of your breath, you will spontaneously
breathe in. Your abdomen and hand will probably
rise as your lungs spontaneously fill with air.
Next, try this for 5 breaths:
Breathe out, release your breath
and let your lungs fill. Draw
in your breath filling the bottom of your lungs
first. Your abdomen will rise as your lungs fill
from the bottom up and your chest will expand
as your lungs expand.
Breathe out again filling the
balloons, release your breath, let your
lungs fill as your body expands from
the abdomen up. Breathe out again
blowing into the balloon, release, let
your lungs fill, and your chest expand.
Breathe out, blowing into the
balloon, release your breath.
Allow your lungs to fill. Breathe out
again, blowing into the balloon, release your
breath. Allow your lungs to fill.
If you have been only half breathing and you now
switch to this full, complete breathing, you might
feel dizzy as you take in more air. If you tend
to be anxious, this could alarm you. Remind yourself
that you feel a bit dizzy because of the increased
air and oxygen; however, do not continue with
anything that seems wrong for you. The more you
intentionally practice this breathing, the more
automatic the abdominal response will become and
the more confident you will become as you are
aware of your body's responses.
Practice complete breathing at any time. The more
you practice the more natural it will become.
Remember, when you aware of breathing you
are totally in the moment, the now.