Breathing Meditation – Ultradian balance
Breathe the Breath of Life
Breathing is life. When we’re startled, we gasp; when we’re stressed or afraid, our breath is shallow and rapid. Contentment or relief is accompanied by a deep sigh. Sadness and grief often result in limited breathing.
Breath. Short, long, deep, or shallow-we experience life one breath at a time.
We can go weeks without food and days without water, but only minutes without a breath of air. In fact, we take about 20,000 breaths each day. Understanding that because breath equals life, we need to pay more attention to how we breathe.
The way we breathe can deeply influence our health and happiness. Have you ever watched an baby sleeping? Its tummy rises with every breath, each taken unconsciously and effortlessly through the nose. Full and efficient breathing forces the stomach to rise as air fills the diaphragm (between the stomach and the ribs) and then the lungs.
Over time, our internal organs stop working in the relaxed manner they did when we were born. Even children begin to breathe shallowly and unnaturally. Our breathing patterns are altered by stress. Shallow breathers pull in their stomachs with each breath, which pushes the diaphragm up, so the air has nowhere to go. If your chest and shoulders rise with each breath, you’re doing a lot of unnecessary and inefficient work. The abdomen and chest should “expand” with each breath and deflate with each exhalation. As well, if you breathe through your mouth, your lungs receive cold, unfiltered air. Obviously not a good thing.
The first step in gaining good breathing techniques is to notice how you breathe. Make a point of checking your breathing throughout the day. Check in with your body continuously. Notice how it feels and how it feels when you make it drop into a relaxed state. The difference is very discernable. You’ll be surprised how often you will catch yourself breathing shallowly. Shallow breathing means blood cells are getting less oxygen. This, in turn, means muscles and other parts of your body’s system have insufficient oxygen to function efficiently.
A study published in The Lancet, noted that cardiac patients who took 12 to 14 shallow breaths per minute (six breaths per minute is considered optimal) were more likely to have low levels of blood oxygen, which, “May impair skeletal muscle and metabolic function, and lead to muscle atrophy and exercise intolerance.” Alternative-health icon, Dr. Andrew Weil, says: “If I had to limit my advice on healthier living to just one tip, it would be simply to learn how to breathe correctly.”
Proper breathing decreases anxiety, depression, irritability, muscle tension, and fatigue. Good breathing habits, which become natural with time and practice, enhance overall health, provide increased energy and circulation, and improve brain and nervous system function.
Breathing patterns reflect our physical, mental, and emotional states. Shallow chest breathing is associated with the body’s “fight or flight” stress response. Habitual chest breathing causes the body to think that it’s in a constant state of stress. Breathing from the diaphragm, on the other hand, sends a direct message to the body that everything is fine.
When stressed – force yourself to do just that. You will be amazed at the difference. This brings a new focus also – to the event at hand. Lets us deal with it in a way that if far healthier then if we had just gone at the event – full on – like a tornado gone mad. Your body can not differentiate between stress. One stress is like another stress. And it deals with each exactly the same way. This breathing technique will tell you body it is safe. And that you are dealing with things appropriately. ‘No need body – to rush in with excess adrenaline, cortisol and other fight or flight hormones. I am fine.’
Breathe fresh air whenever you can. Combining breath awareness with nature walks, meditation, or other forms of immune-boosting exercise is a wonderful way to practice and appreciate the breath of life. Oxygenating every cell in our bodies is exciting, natural, and necessary. Reclaim your life’s breath-savour it, revere it, and enjoy its benefits.
The ultradian is probably the most important breathing concentration you can do.
Ordinarily, we breathe predominantly through one nostril for 90 to 120 minutes then through both nostrils for about 20 minutes followed by predominance in the other nostril for 90 to 120 minutes. This cycle continues throughout the day and is known as the ultradian rhythm.
In our society – we neglect the need for a twenty minute break every 2 hours or so. We replace our minds message to relax with alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, drugs, poor foods, television and so on. These things then further alienate us from our emotional truths and from our spiritual identities.
It is important to know that when both nostrils are breathing in rhythm, it is a time of integration between the hemispheres. This is the time when we want to daydream, fantasize, reflect, have a break from what we are doing, gaze off into space, move around in a different position, or process emotional data. It is a time of emotional reconciliation between mind and body, when we are open to receive and pay attention to messages from our body. We are primed to receive intuitive messages, inner guidance – connecting us to our spiritual selves. At times – we acknowledge emotional data that we have suppressed.
Take slow and meditative breaths knowing that as you do so – you are also putting your body into an alkaline state, and feeding and cleansing your organs. Perhaps even more importantly, your serotonin and melatonin levels increase and your pineal gland responds with new vigor. Both of these things are immune busters. Taking twenty minutes to see what your body and spirit have to say, a few times a day…is a conversation you will begin to look forward to daily. Your body always tells you when it is time. It is important to breathe through your nose and out through your nose. In deeper relaxation breathing, through the nose and out through the mouth can be used. Some affirmations I use:
I am cleansed, purified, nourished, and protected. I am young, strong, healthy and powerful.
Proper breathing and care of your body, will ensure you really are those things.
(margo laing inc 2010)