I love breathing. Sounds silly sometimes when I say that, but I do. Since I started doing breathing meditation it’s become a favorite pastime of mine. And recently there’s something I “discovered” for myself that has changed even this most basic of human functions, something that sounds even sillier than saying I love breathing:
As I medititate, I will regularly do a body scan with my mind, exploring the state of my body and those areas that I don’t normally pay attention to. As I was doing this during a recent meditation, it occurred to me that I may not be fully utilising the breathing apparatus that I have. All these many years on this earth and I realised that I was merely sipping the air around me, instead of taking big gulps.
Imagine you are a swimmer and you have your head down as you swim, but every several strokes you turn your head up to catch a breath of air (some of you of course already swim like this). You would take a nice gulp of that air because you are going to need it to keep your energy, balance and have enough air to reach your next breath.
If you listen to a recording of a singer like Lady Gaga’s “Million Reasons” you will hear her frequently taking a big gulp of air, most likely because she wants to drive her vocal cords with the least amount on strain and having air to push through puts much less strain on them.
I remember reading a few years back about a marathon runner that had learned how to regulate his breathing as he ran in order to provide the maximum amount of energy to every part of his body, thereby reducing fatigue.
It’s hard to say if water or air are the most critical to our survival, but both have the incredible potential to heal, to calm me down and to provide me with the oxygen my brain, blood, and body crave. By quickly filling my lungs with that essential life element, and paying very close attention to how I breathe, where the air is going, I’m able to accomplish many things I never imagined.
Heartburn has been an infrequent issue for me. A short session of drinking air, and it goes away. I’ll often wake up with sore spots in various places in my body. By taking those gulps, then mentally directing the air to the place I’m feeling discomfort, I find I have a built in pain reliever. This has worked on many occasions for headaches as well.
This is of course no replacement for serious issues that need medical attention, but maximising my use of the air around me both during my mindful breathing and during the course of my day has provided me with a new tool to battle discomforts of all sorts.
Next time you want to try this, simply take a big gulp of air and let it naturally expand your lungs, chest, stomach. The best gulps will produce a gasping sound, and can be felt as a cool sensation on the back of your throat. Rather than immediately expelling the air, let it filter down into every part of your body, and mentally try channelling it to any areas of discomfort. When you finally breathe out, do it slowly, thereby allowing the air to naturally clean out toxins.
I’ve practised this with my eyes closed, which can be very effective because you can probably focus better on your body. But it’s also very effective while in the course of any activity, eyes wide open.
I hope this provides you with some extra energy, enjoyment and relief. I know it has for me.