Deep breathing keeps you clear, calm, and focused. Yet even though we know this, it can still be incredibly difficult to do. Once, as I was explaining to a friend the importance of breathing deeply and calmly, she replied, “But that just seems so — so simple!”
Exactly. When we’re stressed out, we’re often in “fear” mode; we’re afraid about some aspect of our jobs, our significant others (or lack thereof), our bodies, our weight, our health, our schedules. The list goes on and on. We over-complicate these problems in our minds. We internalize our fear, and we begin to react to situations from highly tense modes of thinking and being in the world. When we take this stance in the world — this firm, unbending, scared posture in how we present ourselves to the world — we don't reflect the best selves that we have deep within the core of our being.
Coming back to the breath is one way to do this. When you simply focus on breathing deeply, you don't feed your fears. You don't continue spinning your thoughts in an out-of-control manner; you focus on the control you do have over the depth of your inhales and exhales, and your body follows as you send the message to it that you are safe, that you are home, and that you're capable of solving all that you need to in your world.
Here are three things that you can do to complement and enhance your deep breathing practice:
1. Find a quiet place where you can simply be.
This can be a corner of your room that feels comfortable and safe. Envision yourself surrounded by a protective white glow in this one corner of the world, and believe that in this place, you can be free and wholly yourself, without your fears getting in the way of your accessing your heart.
2. Sip tea (preferably decaffeinated) as you breathe deeply.
Add in some raw, organic honey for sweetness and some lemon for its alkalizing properties, if you desire. Particularly if your tea is hot, you'll have to sip it more slowly so that you don’t burn your mouth. As you sip your tea, remind yourself that sipping and breathing slowly will calm your heart rate and your nerves and will allow you to clarify your thinking.
3. Place your hand over your heart and simply repeat to yourself, “I am enough. I am loved.”
Repeat these words slowly, and, importantly, feel what it feels like to believe them and to know that no matter what happens to you, the feeling of truth that you can find in these words can enable these words to bind to your heart and to free your spirit from worries or stress. Rest in the space where the words lie and know that there is truth lying in there for you, however deep you may have to go to find it.