Two months ago, I realized I had erratic breathing patterns. This is something I have struggled with my whole life, but it has gotten worse in the last couple of years.
So in April, I began practicing intentional breathing exercises every day, three times a day.
My breathing exercises are really simple. I just breathe slowly and deeply in and out of my nose ten times, three times a day. Sometimes I do it while I am sitting; sometimes I do it when I am lying down (like when I am first waking up or going to bed).
The first month I began practicing my breathing exercises, I saw immediate and significant benefits. You can read more about this here.
My favorite changes were that my muscles immediately felt stronger; I could walk up the stairs without getting winded; and I stopped snoring.
I have continued my breathing exercises in May and June, and even more cool things have happened. Here are three of them.
First: I have been having fewer anxiety attacks.
I have struggled with anxiety all of my life, and both good or bad stress can cause anxiety attacks.
On the one hand, my anxiety attacks are pretty minor on the anxiety attack scale. I don’t get dizzy. My heart doesn’t race. I don’t get sick to my stomach or throw up.
Instead, I get overstimulated, and I feel like something bad is going to happen. I become really heat, light, and noise sensitive, and I have to hang out in a quiet, shady place to de-escalate for a while. Sometimes I also have problems catching my breath.
What I noticed in May and June is that even thought I still have anxiety, I have had fewer anxiety attacks, and I am certain that it is my breathing exercises that have helped me.
As I have practiced breathing, I have become more aware of my body, and I have noticed when I am about to have an attack. I am able to respond early on with gentleness and soothing behaviors like affirmations, resting, and engaging in peaceful activities like watercolor painting.
This de-escalates my anxiety before it kicks into high gear.
Second: I have turned into a magical walking enthusiast.
I have always enjoyed walking and exercise, but in the past, I have really struggled to exercise for long periods of time.
I always told myself that this was because I wasn’t very athletic or that I wasn’t a long-distance athlete.
Well, this month this has all started to change.
In May, I I began walking a mile or two, which is pretty typical for me. And then one day, I decided I would walk four miles. So I did.
And that felt really good. I was so enthusiastic about walking, I decided I would walk six miles a few days later. So I did.
And that felt really good. And then all of a sudden yesterday, I walked eight miles.
This is the longest I have ever walked before, and I felt so proud of myself. I think I will start running soon.
I have also realized that in this process, I have become more heat and light tolerant, and I have been spending a lot of time outdoors each day, which has also been really good for my mood.
Third: I feel more grounded and have more confidence.
The more I practice deep breathing, the more grounded, present with myself, and internally and externally strong I feel. These feelings of strength have made me feel more confident about taking on various challenges.
Throughout my life, I have often struggled with an all-or-nothing mentality–either I am good at something or I am not. My experience with breathing has reminded me that our life can change dramatically for the better when we practice loving habits a little bit each day.
So, it is not the case, for instance, that I am not good at walking or that I am not good at managing stress. What is actually the case is that I have natural abilities to walk and manage stress, and the more I support myself through loving habits like deep breathing, the more I strengthen these natural abilities I have.
Healing Belongs to Us
One of the biggest realizations I have had these last couple of months is that healing belongs to us.
Life can be really hard and stressful, and all of us develop emotional and mental wounds that need healing because of things we experience.
Just like our body wants to heal physically, our emotions and mind want to heal, too. Deep Breathing has been a profoundly healing practice for my emotions, mind, and body.
Lately, I have been asking my mind, body, and emotions, “What do you need? How can I show love to you?” and I have been taking time to listen.
My mind, body, and emotions have been telling me things like, “I need to stop working for a while and play”, “I need to eat more salad”, “I need ice cream”, or “I need to ask for help.”
I feel like like I am still not always the best at listening to myself, but I am getting better, and the more I listen, the more healing I experience. And that makes sense because healing belongs to me. It belongs to you, too.
Invitation: If you would like, please practice breathing with me this month. You can practice like I do–take ten, deep breaths in and out your nose, three times a day. Or, you might have your own breathing practice that makes sense to you. I would love to hear the benefits you experience.
Question: What physical, emotional, and mental practices have brought healing to your life lately?
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You can read about month three of my breathing practice here:
This post describes the beginning of my breathing practice: