Just Breathe

Yeah I don’t want to hurt. There’s so much in this world to make me bleed….. Just Breathe – Just Breathe by Pearl Jam.

So cradle your head in your hands and breathe, just breathe – Just Breath by Anna Nalick.

Just breathe photo IIIt’s so basic of a human movement that, like blinking, our bodies automatically perform the effort. It’s as vital to our existence as food and water. And yet, breathing, real breathing, is one of our most neglected allies.

Want proof? Like many children, one of my sons sometimes has difficulty handling frustrating situations. During these episodes, he’s famous around our house for clenching his fists, stamping his feet and bottling his anger until his face reddens. He also, purposely or not, holds his breath, until finally letting loose with an “Oh my God!” Within time, usually a few minutes, he calms himself and is ready to speak with his mother and me about the situation in a much calmer tone.

Want more? I, like many other body builders, have a bad habit of holding my breath during especially heavy sets. I’m working through it and constantly remind my 13-year-old son Jake not to mimic his dad. Three weeks ago however, my lack of proper breathing during a difficult set of leg press resulted in an unwanted result. I won’t provide specifics, but like many other lifters experience, I had difficulty sitting for about a week.

Still, there’s so much more to breathing than proper lifting or childcare techniques and its benefits are endless. As human beings, we can be complete opposites to someone sitting next to us on the subway ride to work. Our political ideologies can allow us to immediately dismiss a friend’s differing opinion. And forget about sports. Like George Carlin said in a famous skit, “In football, during the game in the stands, you can be sure that at least 27 times you’re capable of taking the life of a fellow human being.”

And yet, we all still perform life’s most basic function more than 20,000 times per day without thinking or understanding its ability to improve our lives.

Whether you’re:

– Having difficulty maintaining your sanity after juggling what feels like a thousand priorities.

– Furious that a co-worker received a promotion that you’d expected to come your way.

– Nervous about the thought of approaching the person you’ve had your sights on for a while.

– Dealing with the loss of a close friend, or any other life-altering situation….

Just breathe

Sounds simple right? That’s because it’s the most basic of life’s best practices. There are almost no times when a person must make a life-altering, split-second decision. Therefore, in almost every facet of your existence, you have the opportunity to slow life to your own manageable pace.

When these moments occur, stop whatever it is you’re doing and take a moment to become aware of your breathing. Control it, own it and make it work for your benefit well beyond just keeping you alive.

*** Close your eyes, sit/stand up straight, remove all thoughts from your mind and take a deep, controlled breath through your nose so that your diaphragm rises. Hold it for several seconds, before allowing the air to slowly escape through your nose. Do this several more times, feeling your body’s stress being released upon each exhale. When you feel more relaxed, open your eyes and tackle the situation from a better frame of mind. ***

If it sounds like meditation, it is. Well, at least a form of it anyway. But there’s science and proven success to back up this technique.

Breathing deeply, especially through the nose, allows for increased levels of oxygen to penetrate our cells and for full utilization of our lungs. According to the Breath Awareness Center in Lambertville, N.J., slow, deep breathing can lower blood pressure, end heart irregularities, improve poor digestion and decrease anxiety.

Dr. James Gordon, former chair of the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy, has taught breathing techniques to effectively assist cancer patients and children with attention deficit disorder.

What’s more, it works. In my first blog, “Develop and Work Your Life Plan” I wrote about a person’s state of mind greatly affecting the meaning they apply to any circumstance. Hence, the reason many of us say or do something instinctively that we regret later. Taking those few deep, full breaths before we react provides us the opportunity to enter a more relaxed, focused and effective state.

My youngest son Cole once made fun of me because I was driving the speed limit and was being passed by nearly everyone on the road. I told him, “There’s no reason for me to drive that fast, because I don’t have anywhere I need to be so badly that I risk an accident.”

When it comes to managing the stresses, anxieties, depressions, nervousness or any other discomforting areas of your life, there’s also no reason for not taking time to just breathe.

Now if I can only remember that the next time I see a Ravens’ fan while attending a Steelers’ game.

Chris Errington is a husband, dad, writer, seeker of truth and fervent believer in the power of utilizing best practices to live a more balanced and enjoyable life. When I’m not coaching Little League baseball, rooting for the Steelers and West Virginia University or desperately attempting to grow grass in the front/back yards, I’m often planning ways to live my ultimate goal of writing remotely from the deck of a 32-foot sloop while sailing around the Caribbean. Getting my wife to agree is another matter entirely.


7 thoughts on “Just Breathe

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