It all begins with the breath.
Did you realise that, although breathing is a natural reflex that all living animals perform, newborn babies have to learn to breathe? At first, nestled in your arms, you may notice how the breath comes in fits and starts, how unrhythmic it is, like an avant garde jazz session. The riff isn’t predictable. One slow, two quick, two slow… Sometimes anxiety-inducing long silent gaps between the breaths.
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The natural fluid motion of the breath has to be established, the metronome to breathing has to be learnt. You actually teach your baby how to breathe, by modelling that rhythm. By taking deep, conscious, long breaths in their presence. By being close, and breathing alongside them. Creating that harmony of the breath for them, with them.
You breathe 22,000 a day. Are you conscious of…any of those breaths? It is something so ordinary and yet so miraculous.
Take a deep breath now. Deep and low, into your lower belly. Deep down into your pelvis. Send the breath far into your torso. And as you breathe out, feel the tension soften in your jaw, cheeks, shoulders.
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A gently rising and falling breath pattern stimulates your rest and digest, parasympathetic nervous system. The counterbalance for your stress response. This can calm your body and mind. You begin to soften and relax. Your body is soothed by restful hormones. Your thoughts, feelings, emotions can also be tamed and calmed by this physiological response. Slow, deep, long, soft.
Treat yourself like the newest of newborns. Learn how to breathe.
Do you consciously breathe at any point during the day? What are your thoughts on breathing as a calming tool? I’d love to know.
I’m at the beginning of my training to teach Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy – and coming back to the breath is one of the fundamental skills that we have to learn, to reduce our stress and symptoms of anxiety and depression in the longer term. Have you felt a positive effect of conscious breathing? Comment or DM me! xxx
Anya Hayes’s two books Pregnancy: The Naked Truth and The Supermum Myth