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How did you learn how to breath?

Discussion in 'Treatment & Therapy' started by Living in the 70s, Jun 26, 2018.

  1. Living in the 70s

    Living in the 70s "Go dté tú slán" Premium Member Donated

    Anthony wrote an article on Breathing so there is some great information here. I have tried working on my breathing at different parts of my life. It has come to my attention that my breathing is not so good, once again, so I am willing to work on breathing. I am interested in finding out how other people learnt how to breathe. How long did it take you? How often do you practice during the day?

    This article talks about it taking quite a time to do, and that awareness and refocusing your breathing will be important to do over time.
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  3. Tornadic Thoughts

    Tornadic Thoughts I'm a VIP

    I learned one summer about 6ish or so years ago, not too long after I'd resigned from my f/t job and was in the midst of trying to juggle some severe med side effects and a boat load of physical ailments. I'd gone to a weekend rhythm revival retreat that was full of folks teaching/practicing hand drumming, didgeridoo, African dance, chanting, yoga, shamanic practices, women's/men's groups, etc. and really had no idea what to expect, but felt in my gut I really needed to be there, so I went.

    When they first mentioned breathing as a form of stress relief, I thought they were nuts. Who were they to say I needed to learn how to breathe? I was convinced I already had that well enough under control since I was still alive and stuff. But low and behold, it was one of the biggest life changing things I've ever learned and I still actively practice it in one way or another daily. It was an instant relief thing for me and was powerful enough to convince me I needed to make it a part of my every day. I haven't stopped practicing since.

    I find practicing while I'm driving, in line at the store, while walking, while reading, while bathing, while brushing my teeth, while waiting to fall asleep, as soon as I wake, etc., etc. makes it easier to fall back on it when I really need it. It helps me stay on track with it to remind myself that shallow breaths = shallow thoughts. Some days I have to make myself do it as it just feels insignificant and not a priority, but I can really tell the difference when I don't practice.

    The first morning, this gentleman, Jim Donovan, had us practice the rhythmic breathing/stopwatch technique, like this:
    Rhythmic Stress Relief: Stopwatch Tap Technique with Jim Donovan

    Then he taught us the square breathing method:
    Inhale gently through your nose as you count to 4 (or higher as you feel more comfortable, just keep it equal breaths each step)
    Hold it and count to 4
    Exhale gently through your mouth and count to 4
    Hold that empty space and count to 4
    Rinse and repeat several times.

    After that weekend, I felt much more in control of my anxiety levels than ever before. Who knew breath was such a powerful thing....other than keeping us alive and stuff? I began to look much deeper into deep diaphragmatic breathing and what the benefits are and made it a part of my everyday from then on out. Harnessing and practicing that, among many other things I learned during that time, helped me eventually get off of anxiety meds.

    Then I learned the alternate nostril method:
    Pranayama -Alternate Nostril Breathing (Nadi Sodhana) Breathing Exercise Explained

    I was also gifted a few sessions of re-birthing breath work. I'm not good at explaining it, but definitely enjoyed the sessions and would do it again.

    I find combining breathing exercises with nature and chanting to be a very powerful tool in my self-care regimen...sometimes it helps a great deal and other times the day still sucks, regardless, but mindfully keeping up with it when I'm not in crisis mode ensures I'll still keep trying day after day. Some of my favorite chants are the ra-ma-da-sa-sah-say-so-hung (universal healing chant), and om-mani-padme-hum (loving kindness). Ho'opnopono is another favorite (I'm sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you.)...not really a chant, but sacred nonetheless, to me.

    Hope that's helpful in some way. Other reminders that help me are:
    Breathe in the good shit...exhale the bullshit.
    Breathe it all in, love it all out.
  4. Living in the 70s

    Living in the 70s "Go dté tú slán" Premium Member Donated

    Thank you for your detailed and comprehensive response Tornadic Thoughts. That is most useful.

    I am watching those videos.

    What does your daily practising look like? What would a typical look like? How long would you do your breathing each morning, and each night?
  5. Living in the 70s

    Living in the 70s "Go dté tú slán" Premium Member Donated

    barefoot and Tornadic Thoughts like this.
  6. Tornadic Thoughts

    Tornadic Thoughts I'm a VIP

    • When I wake up, I do the square breathing while I stretch before getting out of bed.
    • While I take my morning walk or do my sun bath, I practice either the square or the alternate nostril...sometimes both.
    • If I'm in line somewhere and not feeling talkative or feeling anxious (and can handle the smells that surround me enough to take a deep breath), I'll practice the rhythmic breathing while tapping my finger on my leg or whatever object I'm holding.
    • When driving, the rhythmic breathing along with a few primal screams or singing at the top of my lungs is quite therapeutic.
    • When I'm foraging for, harvesting, or prepping food, I practice random deep diaphragmatic breaths...especially if I screw something up along the way.
    • I stay mindful of my breath as I'm eating, too, putting my fork down between each bite and making sure I chew everything well as I deeply and safely inhale and exhale.
    • In the shower, I practice square breathing. In the bath, I do the alternate nostril breathing.
    • It also helps to have my favorite scents in the air during the times I can make it happen as I practice, especially indoors.
    • As I'm drifting off to sleep, I'll either do the alternate nostril or deep diaphragmatic where I count to 6 on the inhale, then count to 10 or higher on the exhale.
  7. Living in the 70s

    Living in the 70s "Go dté tú slán" Premium Member Donated

    That is an amazing set of practices, thank you so much for sharing. I can see how it works for you now, and that is most useful and inspiring for me. I did some breath work today, and I felt really ordinary during and afterwards, but I will have to keep at it. Seeing how you do your breathing, well I could do that. I could do what you are doing. So thanks that is practical and something I could do.
    Tornadic Thoughts and barefoot like this.
  8. barefoot

    barefoot I'm a VIP Premium Member Donated

    I used to sing a lot as a teenager and did some breathing exercises as part of that. At the time, I just saw it as a warm up for singing/something that would strengthen, improve and protect my voice. I didn't realise then how powerful our breath is.

    So - if you like singing or would like to sing more, combining breathing and singing (or some other kind of voice work) is another way you could include breathing practice into your life.

    My T then taught me diaphragmatic breathing exercises about six months into our work together. It was breathe in through your nose for a slow count of 3, hold it for 3, breathe out through your mouth as though blowing out a candle for 6, then pause for 2 before starting again. T said that the number of counts don't matter so much as the consistent rhythm. So, if you struggle to begin with to do all the 4s for square breathing or to breathe in or out for longer counts (like I do 6 on the exhale) start with shorter counts and just concentrate on repeating a consistent rhythm with those same numbers. As you practise more, you can then build up - and I suspect you'll want to as it'll probably start to feel that, say, 2 counts to breathe in doesn't feel enough anymore.

    Like @Tornadic Thoughts when my T first started talking about it and encouraging me to do it and saying how it would help me calm my system down and ease my anxiety (which at that time was sky high - I was in a pretty much constant state of fight/flight and hypervigilence) I thought she was nuts! But I let her show me and then I didn't do it for a while and then I gave it a try. I then started doing it really regularly - at least 3 times a day (when I woke up, after lunch, before bed) and sometimes more than that if I felt very anxious. Imagine my surprise when it really helped! :D

    I did it at set times and only focused on that - I sprayed a certain scent around the room (which I only use for breathing exercises and meditation) and always did it sitting in the same way and in the same place. I made a bit of a ritual out of it, which helped me get into a routine with it.

    I remember my T saying to aim to do it for 10 mins or so in order for it to be most effective. In the end, with practise, I built it up to often doing 20-30 mins.

    When I first started doing it for longer, it used to have a really strong effect on me - I would feel a bit light headed and very sleepy and would often have to take a nap! Probably what my body needed at that time!

    This is a very timely thread for me as I fell out of the habit some time back but have been feeling very anxious lately. So, I will get back on it!
    I also remember T saying that the most effective way was to do it every day no matter what/how I'm feeling and to not only do it when I felt I needed it because, that way, you're keeping your system at a consistency calmer level.
    Hmm... :rolleyes:

    When you do it, be mindful of where you are breathing from. If you find your chest or shoulders moving a lot, put your attention on breathing from your belly. You may find it helps to rest your hand on your belly while you're doing it, to check that your diaphragm is doing the work. When my T was showing me how, she said that when you breathe in and then hold, to "pop your belly like a buddha" which helped to keep my focus on belly breathing, not chest breathing.

    If you struggle with sleep at all, breathing exercises before bed have really helped me. Even doing it for 10 mins before bed helped with falling asleep, staying asleep and not having such active and disruptive parasomnias.
  9. Living in the 70s

    Living in the 70s "Go dté tú slán" Premium Member Donated

    This morning I did the square breathing method:
    Inhale gently through your nose as you count to 4 (or higher as you feel more comfortable, just keep it equal breaths each step)
    Hold it and count to 4
    Exhale gently through your mouth and count to 4
    Hold that empty space and count to 4
    Rinse and repeat several times.

    I did it as many times as I could. It was hard, and I felt more anxiety afterwards. I have not been in my body for a long time, if ever, really, so I will stick with this.
  10. Tornadic Thoughts

    Tornadic Thoughts I'm a VIP

    It definitely takes some getting used to. I had this article happen across my path today and thought it was timely and quite helpful. Depending on the traumatic event(s) experienced by the individual, the breathing exercises could potentially make anxiety worse in the moment, therefore one must proceed with caution.

    Don't Start With The Breath – Laura Khoudari – Medium
    Living in the 70s and barefoot like this.
  11. Stephernovas

    Stephernovas Well-Known Member

    I was taught to breathe in for a count of 4, hold for 4, and then slowly exhale for 8. The focus was to have the exhale longer than the inhale. Physiologically if you're likely to hyperventilate, it's due to the surplus of oxygen in your body. So, if you're borderline panicking, it's best to avoid inhaling too much.
  12. Friday

    Friday Raise Hell Moderator

    As a child
    I learned to breathe politely (so no one would notice) in company
    I learned to breathe silently whilst sneaking
    I learned to breathe without moving my chest or belly in formal dresses.
    I learned to shape my breath, canting which way the air flows, in speech pathology
    I learned to breathe to create force! & to numb pain & to cool off in sports.
    I learned how not to breathe & to trick my breath response whilst swimming.
    ...and I learned if I can talk? I can breathe. In rescue swimming.
    I learned how to project in singing (Singing breathing is hard! So many muscles!)
    I learned to ration my breathing playing other musical instruments

    As an adult
    I learned to rhythm my breathing singing cadence, running.
    I learned to pace my breath diving (regulator)
    I learned to breathe to create stillness shooting & in panic
    I learned to breathe to hasten or prolong an orgasm in sex
    I learned to breathe to clear my mind and settle my nerves in pain
    I leaned to breathe to keep myself company at night when I was alone.

    And probably a few others ;) But point made ... for me ... Breathing has many purposes, and many ways to achieve that purpose. So when I’m breathing? I look to what purpose it’s serving. When I remember. I can also notice my breath to see what purpose it’s attempting, and alter its course. Or join in. Oh! This is what we’re doing, now! Okay.
  13. grit

    grit Active Member

    I did not even know I was not breathing properly for the longest time until I joined therapy.
    I joined a guided breathing for 8 weeks. Where the leader tells us how to breathe. It is hard to explain but something like breath in squares. So you inhale for horizontal line and exhale for the vertical line (or whichever feels easier) but must follow the lines until you finish the square. Sometimes we did it for triangles and sometimes we did it with words like breath out on peace and breath in for I am!

    Now every time I am in still position like taking the subway/bus, sitting under a tree in the park, waiting for anything (bus, line, etc) I do it. Whatever I remember I do it. While biking. I heard from a friend, if you swim often, you become a super breather! (I do not swim often or good) but apparently it is another way to learn how to breathe properly.

    For me I guess growing up with a very volatile mother, I sort of learned to hold my breath and forget myself. Really poor breathing skills...very shallow.
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