Ever notice that after a stressful circumstance, such as barely dodging a car accident or nearly dropping something that is valuable and breakable, that the body’s innate response (once the potential threat has passed) is to take a deep breath?
Elaine was having trouble relaxing. And while I don’t command my clients to relax, I found her constant talking distracting. As the session continued, her body grew more tense, not because she was in pain, but because she was talking about all of the stressors in her life. I felt the frustration rising in my own awareness, unable to help her settle her body and create the changes she so badly needed to feel comfortable. Then I remembered a basic technique I had shared with many others during my years of practice.
As the concept of holism gains acceptance in Western culture, it becomes increasingly commonplace to find ourselves impressed by the ways in which everything is connected to everything else. We embrace holism in our approaches to health. We pray for our leaders to embrace holistic understanding of our geographical and political environments. We find significance in the synchronous thoughts and events of our personal lives. “There are no accidents,” we say.
The American Dream. This phrase draws people to our country by the thousands. The idea that greatness can be achieved, even when starting with nothing, is the touchstone of our Western culture. We live in a society where great value is placed on the external, somewhat elusive notion of “success.”
Breathing is the first action we take as an autonomous being, and we continue to do so until we give up this body. From the first breath to the last, we exist dependent upon an energetic exchange between inner and outer environments. Without breath, we perish. We can survive for weeks without food, for days without water, but we will die if deprived of air for more than a few minutes. To live is to breath.
The Importance of Breathing
I didn’t breathe during most of my 20s — or at least I didn’t breathe fully.
I had no idea my chronically tight shoulders, constricted intestines, insomnia and unyielding jaw tension were so closely related to my limited breath. To regain my health, I had to relearn how to breathe. And, though I still have to remind myself to do this from time to time, I understand how healthy breathing supports the body’s ability to heal itself.