Just Breathe

By now, you’ve probably heard the command ‘just breathe’ at least a dozen times in your recent life. It has become ubiquitous, carved on stones, painted over doorways, screened onto t-shirts, coffee mugs, and bumper stickers. So after seeing the word ‘breathe’ posted in so many places, are you starting to wonder if these hippy-yogi-bohemians might just have a point? Answer: they do.

Medical research institutions have conducted innumerable studies on stress management and associated health factors to deconstruct the path to achieving health and well being or to solve problems of chronic illness and stress. Leave it to human kind to complicate life so much that we distract ourselves with our own intellect, thereby disregarding a simple and exquisite wisdom that has been with us since the beginning of life – that if all else fails, in a moment of crisis, all we need to do is pay attention to the breath and our situation will immediately begin to improve. If you have ever tried it, you most likely know it to be true as well.

So why is this? Well the reason is that our breath and our central nervous system are deeply intertwined. The fact is that you don’t need to do anything in order to breath. Your body does it for you, whether you like it or not. However, when you focus on and pay attention to your breath, the quality and depth of your breath immediately improves. This quickly settles your nervous system, kicking your parasympathetic nervous system into gear (low that is). And when the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) is active, you have ready access to your rest and relaxation state. The more settled and relaxed you are, the lower the stress hormones and the higher the quality of your state of being. And since we are, after all, human beings, the more our body is in being mode and not stressed out doing mode, the better.

The answer was inside us all along.