The Thistle - An E-Newsletter of Scotch College, Perth, Western Australia

Take A Breath

We get up, shower, get dressed, maybe eat some breakfast, say goodbye to our partner and children and we are off on our day.  We deal with traffic to get to the office and churn through the 50 to 70 emails that have miraculously arrived since you cleared your inbox the night before and then your workday begins.  Meetings, tasks, maybe time for chat during the morning tea break with colleagues and you’re off again.  Eventually back in the car, we drive in traffic to get home, see the family and eat, check the emails and finally stop and relax, feeling completely spent.

Our lives are very busy.  The demands of work and home are considerable and finding balance is not always easy.  In the throes of our busy days, how can we manage to find time to recharge?  How can we find time to take a breath?

Breathing is a type of meditation.  It has many benefits, is actually easy to do and only needs a minute.  Breathing, following the breath, helps focus the mind and brings you back to the present moment.

In his guide to meditation, Wherever You Go, There You Are, Jon Kabat-Zinn writes this about breathing:  “It helps to have a focus for your attention, an anchor line to tether you to the present moment and to guide you back when the mind wanders. The breath serves this purpose…Bringing awareness to our breathing we remind ourselves that we are here now.”

Deep breathing can be a natural painkiller as the body releases endorphins.  It will improve blood flow.  When we take a deep breath, the upward and downward movement of the diaphragm helps to remove toxins from the body and promote better blood flow.  Through the practice of deep breathing a few times per day we can increase our energy levels as the improved blood flow gets more oxygen into our blood.  Poor posture is related to incorrect breathing.  Filling your lungs with air encourages you to straighten your spine.  It can stimulate the lymphatics system and improve digestion due to the increasing oxygen in the system and reduction in toxins.  Finally, it relaxes the mind and body.  When we are tense, angry or scared our muscles constrict, and our breathing is shallow.  Our body is not getting the oxygen it needs.  Deep breathing allows your body and mind to become calmer.

Find one minute three times per day to practise deep breathing.  Use the 4-7-8 technique, focus on the following breathing pattern:

  • empty the lungs of air
  • breathe in quietly through the nose for 4 seconds
  • hold the breath for a count of 7 seconds
  • exhale forcefully through the mouth for 8 seconds
  • repeat the cycle up to 4 times

Meditative deep breathing is a tool to calm our minds, it can decrease stress, relax our body and mind and helps us to sleep better.  Deep breathing can be important to our overall wellbeing.  I like to set a reminder on my watch to alert me as to when to take time to deep breathe.  However you find the time to stop and take a breath, it will help to improve your wellbeing and that of your children.