Have you ever thought about the connection between the breath, the mind, and the body? We often hear about the connection between the mind and the body, but rarely do we hear about the connection between the breath and the mind/body complex. For centuries, meditation masters have taught us that there is in fact a very close connection between the way we breathe and the states of our minds and the conditions of our bodies.
Although this is actually a very complicated issue, let’s keep it simple and say that there are mainly two different types of breathing: shallow and deep. Shallow breathing is when you breathe in short bursts, taking air directly into the lungs and back out again. The center of shallow breathing is the chest. Deep breathing, on the other hand, is when you take slow, long breaths, drawing lots of air into the lungs. The center of deep breathing is the diaphragm, which is way down in your tummy, or abdomen.
It is said when people are excited, worried, anxious, angry, or sick, they naturally are doing shallow breathing. And when people are feeling content, relaxed, peaceful, and happy, they are naturally doing deep breathing. So in these cases, breathing is a symptom, or a result, of their state of mind and body.
However, some say that because the connection between the breath and the mind/body state is so strong, that we can actually change the state of our mind and body through the breath. If this is true, then we can actually bring about a more peaceful, calm, happy feeling, simply by breathing deeply.
What is your breath like now? Is it shallow or deep? How much of the day do you spend breathing in a shallow way? If you are like most people, you spend more than 99% of your time doing shallow breathing. And if the connection between breath and body is so strong, then all that shallow breathing, day-to-day, may be leading to states of mind and body that are unwanted. And that will eventually lead to mental and physical illness.
Take a long, deep breath now. How does it make you feel? Take 10 more. And then 20. And then try to be aware of your breathing throughout the day, taking hundreds, and even thousands of deep breaths as you cook, wash the dishes, work, watch TV, etc. Breathe your way to greater physical and mental well being.
Basics of Deep Breathing
Watch this video on a simple technique for deep breathing:
What do you think about deep breathing? Tell us in the comments below.