Mindfulness - Mind's Window through Breath

Yoga, Buddha, Deity, Shiva, Water

We used to compete to see who could keep their breath the longest when swimming underwater or driving through the Pennsylvania tunnels when I was a kid. As my own breath capability ranged from day to day, I will sometimes win and sometimes lose to my two sisters. The magician and illusionist David Blaine entered the Guinness Book of World Records in by holding his breath for the longest time ever officially recorded, minutes and seconds. When we're jogging, spinning, even swimming, or when we're exposed to natural elements like smoky air or poor oxygen at high elevations, we breathe differently. Internal contaminants, such as tension, can also damage us, beyond the fact that external pollutants can directly impact our oxygen availability.

Meditation, Mindfulness, Nature

Breathing changes when introduced to stressful conditions, such as an injury or a predator. The respiratory system is, in particular, closely related to emotions. The increased activation in emotional areas of the brain causes our breathing rate to rise when we are nervous. We're all familiar with the accelerating physiological signs of fear, such as a rise in heart rate, blood pressure, stomach squeezing, and sweating, which indicate the sympathetic nervous system's release of stress hormones (chemicals like noradrenaline and adrenaline) that prepare the body for "fight or flight." b Slow, steady breathing is used in many mind-body practices to counteract the body's fight-or-flight reaction. Slow breathing (often deep abdominal breathing) can indicate to the body that the parasympathetic nervous system is involved, which is associated with calm, rest, and repair. Many chronic diseases, according to A. D. "Bud" Craig, a neuroscientist at the University of Arizona, occur when these two processes are out of control and the fight-or-flight reflex is abnormally involved.

Mindfulness can be a way to improve the parasympathetic nervous system's ability to return the body to a homeostatic state.

The mind-body link is bidirectional, with the mind influencing the body and the body influencing the mind. When you sense an emotion, the body always responds before you feel it, which we'll look into in more depth later. People who were asked to keep a cup of hot liquid for less than a minute were much more likely to identify people as kinder, warmer, and happier than those who were asked to hold a cup of cold liquid. When you're feeling cozy, you're more likely to behave warmly toward others. The body's ability to connect a physiological condition with a conscious mental state is most likely the reason it can take control of our mental and emotional states. Right before a willful gesture, such as shaking the finger, science has demonstrated that there are signs in the brain indicating that the brain has detected and contributed to this act seconds before we are aware of it.

Mindfulness is a technique for examining the connections between internal and external factors and their effects on the body, mood, and mental states. Breath becomes a key door of inquiry to assist you in identifying any cause-and-effect relationships (habits) you might have developed. Mindfulness does not prescribe a certain method of breathing (as the pranayama breath analysis demonstrated), but rather facilitates the investigation of breathing itself—how it moves and improves, and what induces these changes.

Woman, Female, Model, Beauty, Fantasy

A mindfulness coach once taught me about how he overcame his social anxiety by seeing how his chest clenched and his breath shortened during the day. For two years, he meticulously documented the physiological condition of his stomach and pulse every two or three minutes! He would breathe softly and deeply for a second or two while his stomach was tense and his breath was shallow to relieve it. His social tension steadily faded over time as a result of his vigilant practice.

You may also want to read more about Mindfulness Meditation and Healing here.