Simply put, breath is a physical connection between our subconsciousness and our conscious self. In the previous post, I gave an example of how to evoke a fight or flight response by only holding your breath. I then indicated that there are also ways of accessing rest and healing by the same means.
But before you are able to utilize breathing exercises, you must overcome the barriers to breath. Breath – or more specifically, oxygen – has to get to where it needs to go.
The first barrier is the throat. We typically have a lot of tension in our throats. The cause of this tension is trauma from childhood. We were told to not speak out until called upon, our opinions were thought lowly and unimportant. Thus we were emotionally silenced, and that silence persists in our muscles, which are tight – this is a muscular imbalance with an energetic (or psychological) root cause.
From a young age, we are conditioned by society. We are told how to act, how to talk, how to be happy, and how to forget.
Repression and suppression are the subjects we were taught in schools and in our homes.
And, unfortunately, most of us scored an A+.
There are numerous symptoms that originate from this tightness in the throat and mouth. One over-arching symptom is shallow breathing: rapid breaths, which draw in minimal air, and therefore does not reach the lower lungs (in the lower lungs are where the majority of alveoli are located – alveoli are the end of the respiratory system).
Furthermore, shallow breaths put the body into a chronic sympathetic state, which causes stress and anxiety. It prevents individuals from proper digestion of foods and the vital healing processes of deep sleep which occur in the parasympathetic state.
Shallow breathing results from excessively breathing through the mouth. However, the nasal passage is optimized for air flow. Even the hairs in our nose filters and purifies the air, allowing higher quality oxygen to be received. But it must reach the depths of the lungs.
Of course, the opposite of shallow breathing is deep breathing. But just as you would not jump to high intensity training if you were sedentary for many years, you wouldn’t expect to change your breathing habits overnight.
Many of us diagnose our depression and stress as societal impositions – originating from our work or relationships – but I argue that the cause of our anxieties lies on our lips.
Start slowly by identifying times during the day in which you are breathing through the mouth as you work and correct it by breathing through the nose, filling your lower diaphragm first – think of filling a glass of water, beginning with the depths of your belly and filling it with air until it rises into your chest.