Our lungs are an amazing organ. I believe they are the only major organ that functions automatically or allows us control if we wish. You choose whether to take complete control of your breath, or just let it do it on its own. What most people don’t know is our breath, and the way we breathe is intimately tied into our emotions and our feeling good. Future newsletters will focus on some of those connections but for today we can just say that by slowing the breath down we move into a state of calmness that gives us at least a partial break from our thoughts, our feelings and our anxieties.
Slow the breath down and your world slows down. I have seen full blown panic attacks come to a grinding halt simply by changing the pattern of the breath of the panicked person. Most people don’t believe this to be true and therefore never even try to practice working with their breath. But guess what? The more you practice the better you get at it. And the payoff can be huge.
Get comfortable. From a lying or sitting position when you are free from distractions and responsibility simply take a breath in through your nose and notice the air is cool and dry as you inhale. Then exhale through the nose and notice that the breath is warm and moist as you exhale. Repeat this cycle 25 times or more. You will notice that the thoughts will try to intrude. Don’t worry. Simply bring the mind back to the sensation of the breath as it passes through the nose and remind yourself continually if it is warm and moist or cool and dry. By focusing on the sensations you are giving your thoughts less room. This will relax your mind and body if you can do it for more than a couple of minutes. Try it!
Tom Golden is the author or three books, Swallowed by a Snake: The Gift of the Masculine Side of Healing, The Way Men Heal, and Helping Mothers be Closer to Their Sons: UnderStanding the Unique World of Boys. Tom was the creator of the youtube channel Men Are Good and served as the vice chairman of the Maryland Commission for Men’s Health. He has been a therapist in private practice for over 30 years.