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  • Jolene Roehlkepartain

3 Ways Your Breath Can Heal You

Everyone breathes, but not everyone knows that the way you breathe can make you anxious—or calm.

“Beginning with our breath, beginning with awareness, we are able to meet whatever comes our way,” writes Thich Nhat Hanh in Fear: Essential Wisdom for Getting through the Storm.

Consider these 3 ways your breath can make your life better.

  1. When you become aware of your breath, you discover what your body needs. When you’re stressed, you tend to hold your breath, breathe in a shallow way, or breathe in an erratic way. All these methods increase your stress level. When this happens, calm your body with your intentional breath.

  2. Take three conscious deep breaths. These three breaths take only 20 seconds to release serotonin (the feel-good neurotransmitter), lower your stress levels, and reduce your pulse and blood pressure. “Breathing mindfully and consciously to de-stress the body is a form of self-healing,” says Donald Altman in The Mindfulness Code.

  3. Place your hand behind your head with your elbows out. After athletes compete, this is what they usually do. Others place their hands on their lower back with their elbows extended. These stances help people to open up their rib cage, breathe deeper, and lower their heart rate faster.

“Our breathing is a stable, solid ground that we can take refuge in,” Thich Nhat Hahn says. “No matter what is going on inside us—thoughts, emotions, or perceptions—our breathing is always with us, like a faithful friend.”

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