To Breathe or Not to Breathe?

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Now THAT is The Question…

Do you ever feel like you’re stuck on an emotional “treadmill to oblivion”? When the mind gets stuck in uncomfortable thoughts and emotions, it’s because the brain has actually been programmed to deny itself oxygen when under stress. A lack of oxygen makes it hard for the brain to shift gears into “relax and think things through calmly” mode.

Why does the brain deny itself what it needs? Early childhood conditioning demands that we “stop crying”.  The only way to stop is to breathe shallowly or even stop breathing momentarily. This cuts us off from the oxygen supply and the feelings. A whole chain of events then occurs in your body and brain, rendering you helpless against automatic negative thoughts – or so it seems.

Okay, let’s step back and look a little closer at how this happens. Remember the phrase, “stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about”? This common parental threat actually trains us to breathe shallowly when our body and mind really want to cry.

Shallow breathing helps us stop crying and regain parental approval – or at least avoid more pain. Pretty soon, we are “programmed” to automatically breathe shallowly in the face of any stressor that might possibly lead to crying.  In fact, soon thereafter, we nearly lose the ability to breathe with the diaphragm, reducing oxygen intake by as much as 65%.

This may explain a lot about why stress has been identified as the reason for most illness and disease. Chronic shallow breathing is a wide open door for health problems, brain imbalances, and relationship problems too.

In my next post, we’ll look at how and why to deepen your breathing so you can feel more relaxed and self-assured.

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