Breathing and Stress

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This video describes how to use diaphragmatic breathing to reduce stress. Breathing is the basis of both life and all relaxation activities. One of the great ironies of breathing is how important it is yet how little attention we pay to it. Although breathing is our biological and spiritual connection to the universe we usually take it completely for granted. In a sense, every time you breathe you recycle the very elements of life. You breathe in life-giving oxygen and recycle this back into the universe by exhaling carbon dioxide. This cycling of breath in and breath out is your connection to the universe and the cycle of life you share with other living things such as the trees and animals around you. Your breathing is also a spiritual process as this cycle illustrates your interconnectedness to all living things on the planet and the universe beyond.
The simple practice of being more mindful of your breathing can help you relax. When you practice mindful breathing your thinking slows down. Mindful breathing helps you stop thinking so much, especially about past and future worries. The parts of your brain that control breathing are intimately related to the parts that control the stress response. Controlled, deep, even breathing facilitates relaxation. Rapid, shallow, irregular breathing disrupts relaxation. One of the main cues for understanding whether you are stressed is the pace and depth of your breathing. If it is rapid and shallow, chances are that you are stressed.
Becoming aware of your breathing pattern is the first step in learning how to slow your breathing down and reduce stress. Learning to control your breathing will provide immediate benefits in learning to control your stress response. By breathing correctly you can strengthen and train your lung functioning, increase your cardiovascular response, increase oxygenation of your blood, calm your nerves, and increase restfulness.

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