When we get stressed or flustered we have a tendency of holding our breath or breathing shallowly from the top 3rd of our lungs. This often causes the side effects of panting, tight shoulders and that high pitched voice you get when you are nervous.
Breath is the most important thing in life.
You can survive around 18 days without food, 3 days without water, but only 3 minutes without breath (the time it takes for your brain to be starved of oxygen).
When you get stressed out or flustered and stop breathing it starves your brain and muscles of oxygen, meaning you will not be able to think as clearly or be as physically or mentally relaxed as you need to be to act in an unflustered way.
So you start to get more stressed and flustered, meaning you tense up more and breathe less and it is all a vicious downward cycle!
The very best way to break this cycle is to, when you notice yourself getting flustered, stop and take some deep breaths.
Practice when you are not stressed or flustered and it will soon become second nature.
You need to take a full diaphragmatic breath. So move your attention to you centre (see Part 1 to find out how to do this), imagine you are breathing from there (like you nose is in your belly button. As you breath in your want your belly to expand, then the lower sides of your rib cage (your “floating” ribs) then your chest and finally you will feel the back of your shoulders expand. When breathing out, it is the reverse process.
You want to breath in slowly for the count of 7, hold for a second and then breathe out even slower, to the count of 11. And then repeat, but never hold it for a second after the out breath, when your lungs are empty.
It is best to practice lying down to begin with.
If you are feeling all adventurous, you can add a little psychological command to the breath to get your mind in the right place. When you breathe in, focus on the word “relaxed” or “calm” or whatever word seems appropriate to you. On the out breath you can focus on the word “stress” (or whatever seems appropriate), so as you breath in you are breathing in relaxation and breathing out (expelling, getting rid of) stress.
Next I will talk about the power of posture and how when theses three (centring, breathing and posture) are combined you will be well on your way to being a true Slow Person in a Fast Environment!