What is it that we do more than anything else? We do it so much, it is so intimately vital to our survival that we do it automatically, even while sleeping?
The answer is breathing.
Even more than eating or drinking water, breathing is the most fundamental of processes for our life. More than that, it is also an integral part of our ability to manage our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health.
Breathing is the basic component and tool used the world over that is taught to help manage oneself. Whether it be in terms of physical activity such as working out or playing a sport, “bottom-up” techniques for self-management in the methods of mental health especially for things like trauma-informed treatment, and/or in meditation and spiritual development – breathing is an elemental skill that is introduced in order to begin as well as to progress.
Combining breathing with observing the body helps the practitioner to feel where things might be problematic, where things are feeling good, and gives one the power and control to make adjustments and changes. Controlling the inhalation and exhalation when working out, for example, enables the athlete to get more efficient effort for the work that they are doing. The athlete has actions in each sport where it is vital that they breathe a certain way combined with the action being undertaken.
Bringing the breathing into the body and focusing upon it also helps someone going through an anxiety or panic attack, as well as enables someone who has trauma to bring their brains out of a state of being triggered. When that trauma response is activated, the brain doesn’t know that the past isn’t in the past, it feels like it’s happening in their “now.” Being able to breathe and feel into the body helps bring the mind back to the present and gives the person the ability to start processing the trauma.
In terms of meditation, methods of breathing can help focus the mind to a single point, enable the mind to move energy smoothly, and even induce states of consciousness beyond the day-to-day, alert-problem solving state of consciousness we tend to live in. Breathing is, or should be, the primary lesson for individuals in any practice in which meditation is an aspect. This includes, but isn’t limited to, practices like Tai Chi and Yoga. Even guided meditation, with its focus more on visualizations, should have a lead-in and out focused on managing the breath.
Even though breathing is an automatic thing we do, its ability to be controlled and managed consciously is an enormous aid to our ability to do pretty much anything and do it well. Whether it’s physical fitness, martial arts, meditation, and/or mental and emotional health, having skill in controlling, managing, and focusing on the breath leads to a solid baseline and growth for the one who is practicing.
We mentioned mental health treatments and guided meditation in this blog post. Stella Luna proudly offers both mental health therapy and meditation workshops as part of our growing collection of holistic therapy and wellness options for the whole person. Come and see all that we have to offer the greater Cleveland community – you’ll find that we’re the breath of fresh air you’ve been looking for!
John has a Bachelors in Communication from Cleveland State University and has made a career in child and adolescent mental health, working in residential, community, and day treatment settings in a variety of roles. He has also spent over 24 years training in Chinese Internal Arts, most of that time he has also been instructing. On top of all this, John has a rich work history which includes retail, performance, fitness, and construction.