I once attended a mindfulness workshop where the instructor shared a simple yet powerful thought about breath and breathing. She said that we can only breathe in the present. We can’t breathe in the past, nor can we breathe in the future. The reason we feel calm when we connect with our breath through breathing deeply in and out, I understood, was because it brings us back to the here and now, to the present, where we feel (and are) most in control.
This thought fits in nicely with something else I once learned about breath. When we are feeling anxious or afraid, whether due to a threat or otherwise, our body goes into fight or flight mode. This is because our bodies are built to survive and when it (we) feels threatened it will do what it needs to do in order to do so. When this happens the oxygen in our body is directed to the areas of our body that are needed to get out of what we perceive as a threatening situation. In other words, our bodies respond by either fighting or running away.
We experience the same reaction whether there is a real threat we are experiencing or if we perceive a situation to be threatening. What often helps us to calm down and relax is taking a number of intentional deep breaths.
If you have ever done this before you may have noticed that your body starts to feel calm and that you are able to think more clearly.
The reason for this, as I understand it, is because a) you have brought yourself back to the present where you have more control and therefore feel more in control, and b) because through breathing you are telling the body (and your brain) that you are okay and safe and can come out of fight or flight mode. By doing this, and by breathing, the oxygen can now circulate throughout your body and to your brain, which then allows you to think more clearly.
How can this information help you whenever you are feeling anxious, foggy, or unclear?
Whenever you feel this way, consider sitting down and taking a few minutes to take a few deep breaths in and out. Do this until you feel calmer and more relaxed, and you notice that your thinking is clearer and more open. This will allow you to connect with yourself and to hear yourself, bringing you to more clarity and direction.
I hope you have found this tip helpful and that you are able to find and create those quiet moments when you can connect with your breathing, reconnect with yourself, and come to a place of clarity and direction.
In support and admiration,