The majority of humanity breathes in such a way that they can shun emotional experiences. It is no one’s fault we have an agile mind ready to help us numb ourselves to emotional intensity.
if you are a parent I encourage you not only to learn how to help yourself but once you have mastered correct breathing share and help your children to grow up more solid and confident in themselves by teaching them. If you have more than one child, I can almost guarantee you that from 6 years old onwards, their breathing pattern will have changed for the worse.
We cannot avoid intense emotions, they are part and parcel of life, learning to let them flow through us is another story. And it invariably begins with breath quite early in most children’s lives. Say you are the only sibling and another 2/3 years younger comes into the world. Jealousy rears its head, the intensity of the emotion is too intense, You are no longer the apple of your parent’s eye.
You are in a state of ongoing conflict every time they goo goo goo ga gaa at the new infant, you’d love to do something nasty to the new addition to the family. You find yourself holding your tummy muscles, seizing your diaphragm as you hold your breath. Why are you doing that? Because emotions are centred in our lower abdomen.
After a little while ..because let’s face it you have to keep on breathing! The top of your ribcage expands, and you get a fresh infusion of air. Little by little this new way of breathing becomes the norm whilst your jealousy and anger get suppressed, but don’t fret your system is trying to reconcile the imbalance, you will know this is happening because you will experience nightmares. If you are a great parent, you will help your children make friends with the monsters in their dreams.
From now on, over time as you grow up you will acquire the subconscious skill of disassociating from your body and will be lost more and more often in your mind and the words that continuously rattle there. If you are fortunate, you will discover physical sports to give you a break from the chattering mind.
Whilst doing intense emotional work I often encounter that the client will suddenly move into the old pattern of emotional suppression by expanding the upper part of the ribcage as they breathe into their upper lung. It takes effort at such a moment to breathe fully and experience the intensity of that deeply buried emotion.
Regaining our ability to breathe deeply and fully will support our emotional life, we will be present in the moment in such a way that emotions will flow through us. Am not sugar-coating that intense emotions can be experienced as painful, but this is bittersweet, they are painful when we hold them back.
There is so much more that can be shared on this subject, but for now, I suggest you look and listen to the following video, where I share all you really need to know to change your breathing habits. It took me 6 months of daily repetition and focus to change my breathing pattern in such a way that I am alerted to my emotional state is it reverts to upper chest breathing, it is worth every moment you devote to this exercise.
Remember we are fractured human beings, we forget intentions way too easily, we are creatures of habit and repetition. Find a time in your daily routine which will remind you to practise, give yourself at least five minutes. Feel free to come back and comment – after you have practised it for a while?