Lately it seems that there is so much violence, hatred, and discord in the world:
Suicide bombings. Mass shootings. Environmental disasters. Rapes and murders. Political mayhem. Cyber bullying. Schoolyard bullying. Suicides. Drug overdoses.
Every day there is another mass shooting or senseless slaying somewhere in the US, another report of a heinous attack somewhere in the world:
Orlando. Dallas. Chicago. Turkey. Nice. Belgium. Paris. Baghdad. Medina. Sudan. Syria. Japan(?!). Ferguson (Remember Ferguson?).
While I am congenitally gifted at finding silver linings, the never ending terror and disaster as displayed on the 24 hour news cycle is really wearing me down.
Sometimes, I just don't know what to do. Sometimes I don’t even know how to be.
One sigh leads to another.
Soon I realize that I am breathing. I am still breathing.
Like you, no matter what, I have to breathe. Whether the news is good or bad, whether I am happy or terribly sad, I still have to breathe. And I figure that if I have to breathe, I might as well breathe with purpose.
My dear friend and teacher, Micheal Shea, PhD recently introduced me to the concept of Coherent Breathing. The general idea, slow deep, rhythmic breathing, is certainly not new -cultures all over the world have been doing this for centuries. Yet there is new and specific science behind Coherent Breathing that is intriguing. It includes work in physics, physiology, sociology, biology and neurobiology. While I find this historic and scientific information interesting, but that doesn't help me feel better. Such things engage and entertain my brain, but it is my heart that is hurting.
And there it is again. A breath. A slow, deep breath. One slow breath follows another, and soon, I am breathing well, evenly, slowly, coherently.
Slowly, I am beginning to feel better: my facial muscles softer, heart rate smoother, my ever-alert nervous system drops down a notch, then another.
Breathing has to happen. Even when I am overwhelmed.
And breathing coherently actually helps me feel better, calmer, more purposeful, peaceful.
It can soothe an aching heart.
The practice of Coherent Breathing is simple -inhale slowly and then exhale slowly, keep this rate even, continue for at least five minutes.
Really it is that simple.
Here. Try this.
Notice your body (feet on the floor? bottom on a chair? hands on your lap?)
Just notice your body in a simple way, letting any stray thoughts or judgements fall away
Next, notice that you are breathing.
Simply bring your attention to the sensation of your body breathing (chest moving? diaphragm rising? slight pressure against your clothing as you inhale?)
Just notice your breathing in a simple way, letting any stray thoughts or judgements fall away
Now we get to the Coherent Breathing part:
Inhale over 5-7 seconds.*
Exhale at the same rate.
Notice (and enjoy) the sensations of relaxation.
Continue for five minutes.
And to make it even easier, here is a beautiful YouTube video link
and a free smartphone app (rate and time can be adjusted)
The YouTube video has a 5 second rate for inhalation and exhalation, perfect for people under 5 ft 2. This 5 second rate is also probably a good fit for pregnant people of all heights since breathing becomes slightly faster and more shallow in pregnancy. This physiological effect of pregnancy begins early in the first trimester. The video is a timed five minute session, complete with lovely graphics and soothing chimes.
While the app does not have auditory time guides, it can be personalized -length of inhalation, exhalation, and time of the session can all be adjusted. Interestingly, the app is French yet easy to navigate even if you don’t read French: Press the bottom right button that looks like a settings icon, then choose the green setting, and adjust both sliders set to 5. This will give you even six second inhalation and exhalation times, for a five minute session. Then press the upper Right bottom to return to the main screen. Oh heck. That all sounds complicated. Really, it is is easy. And worth the effort.
Please just try it. (Please. Pretty please.)
You have to breathe any way. Why not breathe well?
Let your nervous down regulate. Let your self settle. Let a feeling of peace and well-being wash over your entire being.
Please just try it. Try Coherent Breathing.
Do it for your self. Do it for your loved ones. Do it for the world. Lord knows we all could use a little peace.
May all babies be born into loving hands
*If you are a medium height try 6 seconds.
*If you are six foot or taller, try 7 second inhalations and 7 second exhalations.
*If you are shorter than five foot 2, or pregnant, consider trying five second inhalations/exhalations.