When I have clients who are stressed I many times suggest that they concentrate on their breathing. Bringing in more air deeper into the body while paying attention to slowing the inflow, and then being mindful of the subsequent release of air, almost without exception will bring anyone into a more peaceful meditative space.
Unnecessary, unproductive stress by itself can cause so much damage to the physical body as well as to the mind and emotions. Reducing that kind of stress without the use of prescriptions or over the counter medications is highly desirable.
What happens as we concentrate on slowing and giving attention to our breathing is the mind stops its incessant chatter. A person is physically relaxed by using breathing at a more expansive and slower rate. The added advantage is that using that kind of breathing causes the constant mind circling to stop while good ideas are given space to flow in as worries recede.
Using breath as a bridge to the ideas and positive healing input of the high self, god, or guides and teachers has been a method used over the centuries in many cultures. The beneficial results of breath work are tried and true, yet in our somewhat harried way of life it is often ignored or used only infrequently.
I remember years ago when Jose Silva of Silva Mind Control suggested that by using 15 minutes of meditation three times a day all matter of life situations could be changed or manifested with greater ease. That kind of deep meditation cannot happen without physical and mental relaxation. In turn my experience tells me the quickest most effective relaxation is inexorably linked to breath work.
Fortunately I have been offered an effective breathing method that I can confidently pass on to my clients. It is so simple that it might seem unimportant, yet it is both natural and quite logical. As babies you and I took our breaths into our abdomens, using our diaphragms. Sleeping in our cribs our little tummies ballooned up with every breath.
Now as adults many times we breathe in shallow rather ineffective ways. We breathe in a rather staccato shallow way barely using the full capacity available in our lungs. Upper chest breathing does not offer the health benefits that we need.
My suggestion is that each of us spend a few minutes a day, perhaps as little as five minutes, concentrating on drawing air deep into our bodies by way of using our diaphragms. Those five minute practices will stay in our memories for use in the times when we desire stress relief or access to meditation! With any luck it might become our preferred and healthier way of breathing.
Reverend Lois Cheney