Calm Breathing

One way to break this vicious cycle is to change the way we breathe. More precisely, we can return to the way we breathed as babies. Watch the way sleeping babies breathe—low, slowly, and deeply.

There is very little movement in the chest area. Rather, the abdomen slowly moves up and down with successive breaths.

Abdominal breathing is a very effective antidote to stress and anger. When the chest remains relatively still and quiet, respiration is essentially controlled by the diaphragm, a curved muscle below the lungs. When we inhale, the diaphragm contracts, creating a vacuum in the lungs that draws air in. When we exhale, the diaphragm relaxes. Abdominal breathing pulls air down into the deepest parts of the lungs, where air exchange is most efficient. Low and slow abdominal breathing is restful because skeletal muscles relax, and the heart and lungs do not need to work as hard.

Practice abdominal breathing lying down. This helps to relax the skeletal muscles that are not essential to breathing. Place one hand over the sternum, or breastbone, and the other hand over the navel. Notice which hand(s) move. If the upper hand is moving, this indicates inefficient chest breathing. Try to relax your throat, jaw, shoulders, chest, and abdomen, so that only your lower hand is moving. Imagine that your stomach is a balloon that fills with air when you inhale, and deflates when you exhale. Think of breathing gently into the hand that is over your navel. Let your abdomen rise softly into that hand, while your upper hand remains relatively still. The breaths are quiet and natural, one flowing smoothly into the other, with perhaps only slight pauses between exhalations and inhalations. Don't force your breathing to slow. However, you might notice that your breathing will become slower and more regular on its own accord. Practice this several times a day. Some people prefer to place a thick book, such as a phone book, over the navel. This helps them see the abdomen move, and actually strengthens the diaphragm. After a week's practice, consciously try to slow your rate to six to ten breaths per minute.

A few tips will help you to breathe more calmly throughout the day.

• Check your posture. Type As tend to stand in an attack posture. That is, they tighten their stomach and raise their chest and shoulders. This promotes hyperventilation. Try slouching down in a relaxed slump. Then imagine that you have a hook on the crown of your head. Imagine a string pulling your head straight up toward the ceiling, while your shoulders, stomach, and chest remain relaxed. Straightening the spine in this way while relaxing the abdomen dis-inhibits breathing. Keeping most of the skeletal muscles relaxed is also less fatiguing.

• Consciously relax the muscles in the face, since muscle tension tends to spread.

• Do not wear tight clothes, especially clothes that are tight around the waist.

• Consciously try to talk slower, permitting yourself to breathe normally. Talking so fast that one must gasp for air raises blood pressure.

Relaxation Audio Sounds Babbling Brook

Relaxation Audio Sounds Babbling Brook

This is an audio all about guiding you to relaxation. This is a Relaxation Audio Sounds with sounds from the Babbling Brooks.

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