Breath and Emotion

Our breathing is intricately linked with our emotions. When angry, the breath often becomes labored, emphatic. When afraid, we find ourselves literally holding our breath, or the breath becomes very shallow and fast. In the midst of a big emotional meltdown, when a person is crying very hard, it’s the breath that you will notice which helps the upset person turn the corner into relaxing – there’s a deep inhalation in which the body trembles just a little, then shifts into relaxation. Our breath shifts, very subtly or sometimes profoundly, in response to which emotions we are feeling, and how strongly we are feeling them. The converse is also true, our breath is a miraculous physical and energetic system, which is designed to assist us in balancing our emotions, helping us work through the emotions and come quickly to a more balanced state of mind. One easy way to begin to calm yourself down when you’re feeling stressed or anxious, is simply to become aware of your breathing, and then consciously slow down your inhale, making it gentle, relaxed and full. Likewise, lengthen your exhale, allowing it to become somewhat longer than the inhale. This simple step alone, becoming conscious of our breath, brings us into a greater sense of being in our power, and shifting out of fear. To drop a little deeper into a relaxed state, focus on expanding the inhale to the point that you are fully engaging the diaphragm, and this sends an automatic signal to the brain to tell the body to relax. Your muscles will begin to release tension, allowing your blood circulation to increase, creating a positive cycle of increased relaxation. (The diaphragm is the muscle at the bottom of the lungs, and drops down to make more room when you inhale.) Much research has been published in the West in recent years, as well as demonstrated on YouTube on how the breath helps us to relax. Deepak Chopra, founder of the Chopra Center, has some excellent YouTube videos on the subject. This is something the Yogis in the East have known and been practicing for thousands of years. Breath awareness was originally developed by the yogi to achieve the joining of the mind, body, and spirit in search for self-awareness, health and spiritual growth. As this information continues to become more wide spread today, we all benefit. You don’t have to be a Yogi to practice breath awareness, or breathing techniques. It’s easy to shift your focus to your breath, notice your patterns, and practice slowing down and expanding your breathing at multiple intervals throughout the day. You will notice fairly quickly that you become a person who is more relaxed, less emotionally reactive and more present mentally. This being true, it’s well worth giving your breath some attention.