Provision #126: Breathe Deep

LifeTrek Provision

For the past week I’ve been dealing with a series ofcomputer problems. One computer was completely fried, requiring themotherboard, CPU, and video card to be replaced. Other computers hadperipherals that needed to be replaced while they all had one snafu or anotherin the process of upgrading software. Finally, I had to figure out mydaughter’s computer needs, as she gets ready to go to college.

As the resident computer tech for our home and homebased office, all these problems are mine to resolve or refer. This time theyweren’t simple to diagnose and repair. It took many hours over many days to put Humpty-Dumpty back together again. I should have referred!

It feels great to have the problems behind me, andit’s getting easier to relax with every passing day. How did I maintain myequilibrium through a stressful week? I wasn’t always successful. But when Iwas, deep breathing was part of the secret. Nothing is as distracting to me asa problem I can’t solve, especially a computer problem, before I have to go tosleep or another appointment. Unfinished business makes it difficult for me tostay in the present moment: it’s easy to rehash the past and to figure out thefuture. But this is not the way to peace.

Deep breathing can clear the body, mind, and spiritof toxins, worries, and fears. It is the secret to regaining a sense of balanceand control when everything seems to be spinning around wildly. Do you everhave days or weeks like that? Try slow deep breathing, in through the nose andout through mouth.

Deep breathing is a great way to start the day.Carbon dioxide builds up in the lungs at night through the shallow breathing wedo during sleep. Carbon dioxide is heavier than oxygen, so it sinks to thebottom of our lungs (near the diaphragm) and will not come out apart from deepbreathing.

In the absence of deep breathing, the body convertsthe carbon dioxide into carbonic acid that is then processed by the kidneys andexcreted in urine. But why make our bodies work that hard? Five deep breaths inthe morning will clear the lungs and put a good cast on the entire day. Combinedeep breathing with gentle, easy stretching and you’ve got a great formula forrecovery and renewal. This combination lies behind the ancient practice ofyoga.

Deep breathing is also a great way to cope withstressful situations, problems, and challenges. Stress takes a tremendous tollon our bodies, minds, and spirits. It lies behind many illnesses, even majorones like heart disease and cancer, since stress undermines the ability of ourimmune system to maintain optimum health. Research at Yale University indicatesthat stress stimulates the overproduction of cortisol, adrenaline, and norepinephrine. It makes the heart race.

Deep breathing tends to counteract the chemistry ofstress. It can block the release of these hormones into the blood stream andincrease the production of serotonin, the feel-good chemical.

Deep breathing is not hard to do. I like to lie onmy back, with my eyes shut and my legs bent underneath me (a great quadricepsstretch). But it works just as well with your legs and arms stretched out asfar as you can reach. Hold that pose for about five minutes, while you feelyour abdomen rising and falling with each slow, deep breath. No chest breathingfor this exercise. Get the air all the way down to the bottom of your lungs, inthrough the nose and out through the mouth. You’ll be surprised how good itwill make you feel.

Deep breathing can even be done in bed, before yourise. But it works better on a firmer surface, where you can really feel thestretch. If you can’t or won’t lie down on the floor, do your deep breathingwhile seated on a pillow or a chair. Do it throughout the day, whenever youfeel stressed, distracted, and troubled. Deep breathing will work its magic onthe whole of your personality and bring you back to a good place to be.

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.
Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC