BY KARMA CHRISTINE SALVATO
It’s something we do without thinking
And it’s a good thing because if we had to consciously think about each breath we take, chances are many of us might not be here. The way our minds race through the tasks on our “To Do” lists, breathing would rarely make the cut. Obviously, breathing keeps us alive. But this simple practice of drawing air into the body and releasing it again has the power to do a whole lot more. According to an online article from Harvard Health Publications, Harvard Medical School, breathing deeply is a skill that everyone possesses which often lies dormant. Reawakening the skill allows you “to tap one of your body’s strongest self-healing mechanisms. . . . This type of breathing slows the heartbeat and can lower or stabilize blood pressure.” “Breathing is an unusual bodily function in that it is both involuntary and voluntary,” writes David DiSalvo on Forbes.com. But, unlike many of our body’s other involuntary functions, breathing is something that “at any moment we can grab the controls (of) and consciously change.” “Since we are breathing all the time, the oddness of this dual-control system doesn’t usually dawn on us—but it’s this control flexibility that makes breathing especially worthy of attention. We can change how we breathe and to an extent change how breathing affects our bodies.”
DiSalvo lists five science-based reasons why it may be time to start paying more attention to this underutilized tool. He says conscious breathing helps manage stress and anxiety, lowers blood pressure and heart rate, sparks brain growth and changes gene expression. It’s safe to say that deep breathing isn’t something that is exclusive to the yoga-minded or monks meditating on mountaintops in Tibet. So stop a moment and take a deep diaphragmatic breath. Exhale, letting all your worries float away. Just breathe.