On Monday, Christy introduced the element of deliberate breathing to ease our anxieties. When I was on a deadline down through the years at work, I would tend to hold my breath. If I just realized it, I would benefit greatly by taking every opportunity to breath in extra deeply. But here's another suggestion about when to become aware of how you are breathing. Know those days when you are around someone who is so about drama that they aren't happy until they have involved everyone in the room. If they can't get the focus on themselves they make your day miserable? Have you been there?
Well, if you think about it, your levels of annoyance rise, and you find it difficult to keep your thoughts on track. Without realizing what it is doing to you, you begin kicking yourself for getting drawn in - to the point of letting it affect your work. First thing you know, you are anixously having to redo work. The best remedy is to Breeeeaaathhhe. In, then out, slowly...In, then out, SLOWLY. And while you breathe, repeat your favorite verse. Choose the one that gives you peace in stressful situations.
Our high school choir director taught deep breathing as a means of strengthening our diaphram for singing with power and projection. He wanted us to do the exercises before we fell asleep every night. I did it so often that it became a natural part of my going to sleep every night for years afterwards. I also found that telling your body to relax during the process actually works.
I have started with my feet and concentrated on relaxing only my feet. I would roll them around at the ankles and think, my feet are relaxing, and without a pause, "my ankles are relaxing". I would continue up my legs, lifting first one leg slightly and saying, "my calves are relaxing," and then the other leg. Continuing to breathe slowly and deliberately, I focused on every muscle, especially if it was tight or stiff. I frequently fell asleep before I got to my eyelids. It felt especially good relaxing my neck and jaws. If you should decide to try this exercise, and make it past your eyelids, don't leave out your brain. Make it the last thing you speak to..."I rest my brain, I relax my brain...Lord give peace to my brain." Even if you don't go to sleep, you have trained your body to do something other than what you have taught it to do all during the stress of most days.
This is a great midday exercise, too. Regular practice of deliberately telling your body to relax, makes the process go more quickly the more you do it. I also practiced relaxation when riding my bike. And I found that the deep breathing on my bike really did strengthen my diaphram. There were other advantages to these execises as well. A strong diaphram, helps eliminate the whiney feeling symdrom. When you feel like others are running over you, you can get a stronger firmer voice in the face of someone who belittles you, for instance. It's amazing when you decide to speak with power to someone who is attempting to control you. The shakiness and whine leaves your voice, and you speak with empahsis, firmness. When you frimly say "No!." you benefit emensely. You would be amazed how this overcomes someone's attempt to rule you.
Deep breathing also helps alleviate fear. So if you find yourself in a very scarey situation, remember to fall into the pattern of what you practice before sleep. Concentrating on the breathing tends to refocus the brain from the fear. And it seems to be one thing you can do simultaneously with other things. For instance, if you needed to swim for your life, deep breathing would help settle you and give you strength to succeed. In fact, if you see most situations that tend you make you feel sheepish, or small, fearful, or manipulated...as times when you feel like you are drowning, you will resolve to not drown in those situations.
These exercises are often practiced in group therapy sessions too. Therapists realize that many people who are in therapy, are there because they haven't found their own voice, and certainly haven't found the power to use it firmly and with strength of conviction. Breathing is a powerful tool. Practicing it is how you learn to control it. It is an element of learning to have inner strength. Prayerful breathing gives the savoir permission to aid you into wisely using one of the life-giving elements meant to enrich our being and our health.
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Ephesians 6:10
Never forget that the Holy Spirit himself is represented in scriputure as the wind. And when Jesus endowed the saints with his indwelling power, He breathed on them. The parallel correlation is real. Inner power, and breathing go hand in hand. Think of the spirit like being the breath of your soul, in the same way as oxygen invigorates your body.
And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: John 20:22.
Lord, in the garden of Eden you breathed into us the breath of life, and man became a living soul. The connection is more real than many of us realize. Empower us with life, and a strong voice, both to sing praises, and to stand up to one who tries to control us. May we not give that control to anyone but you. In Jesus precious name and by the power of the Spirit...we accept the power you give. AMEN