Are you breathing? Now that’s a silly question since you are reading this, you must be breathing. But the real issue is whether you are breathing well. So perhaps a better question is “How are you breathing today? Is your breath open and full or is it closed and shallow? Does your chest move more than your belly when you breathe? Why not take a moment to find out. Put one hand on your chest and the other on your belly and take a full and deep breath in. What happened? What did you notice? Take another breath to be sure. I know from breathing thousands of people that 90% of the population is getting only about 50% of the available air due to restrictions in their breathing. So I know that it is likely that there is some kind of a restriction in your breathing. These physical restrictions are real and they limit your health, well being, the amount of life force, and ultimately the amount of good that you can receive from your breath.
A generally open and full breath begins with the complete and effortless contraction of the diaphragm; the body’s major breathing muscle. Visually, movement is first noticed at the pubic bone and rises from there. Your belly will begin to expand and it is the movement of this breathing muscle that causes the stomach to raise not your back or stomach muscles. If your stomach did not move when you did your breathing test, then your diaphragm is tight. The breath will continue rising up the abdomen and into the chest, finishing the wave at the collar bone. On the exhale, the process is reversed but the ideal exhalation is relaxed, not forced.
So let’s look at these patterns and see what it means if we are not breathing as described above. When we work with a person one on one, we observe their breath pattern and work to release the points where restriction lies.
A person who has shallow or lazy breathing may have trouble accepting good in their life and they may actually filter out the good. They need freedom to express and accept the self. A great affirmation to work with is “I am worthy.”
If a person has little or no belly breath they tend to show up as having a weak will, are hard on themselves, not grounded and there is resistance to being here. They are flighty in nature. Often these folks have a stronger breath in the chest. In this case, they may be a heart person but could be easily dominated and hurt in matters of the heart. A balance of heart and will is important and a great affirmation is “My heart and will are one.”
The opposite of this is a strong belly breath with little movement in the chest. Typically a person with this type of pattern had strong willed parents and they had to shut down their heart to survive a battle of wills. This was my breath pattern when I first started to learn about Transformational Breathing. A person with this pattern also has a tendency to want to control outcomes and likes things their way. People who are perfectionists tend to exhibit this pattern. There is usually repressed anger associated with this, so forgiveness work is helpful. Helpful affirmations are “I surrender, let go and trust.” “It is safe to forgive.” “I now open my heart.” The beautiful thing about forgiveness is, when we forgive others, we can then learn to forgive ourselves.
These are just a few of the main patterns that can be observed. If you look inward and are honest with yourself, you will know the truth. The breath does not lie. It is a proven fact that when we are stressed or traumatized, we stop breathing. The above mapping just takes this fact a step further. Depending on what energy center or chakra was stressed, will determine how the breathing system is affected. This is critical information for it gives us a powerful map to undo the trauma of the past.
Conscious breathing through Transformational Breathing is much more than just breathing techniques or exercises. As you can see, we have already tied in stress, breathing patterns, muscle tension, affirmations, and anger and forgiveness work. There is more to learn and we will cover many more topics in the months to come. Our future articles will help make your journey easy, joyful and abundant. In the meantime, become conscious of your breath and see when you are breathing fully. Notice also how the breath changes with your emotional state and how your emotional state changes your breath. Notice when you limit the air you breathe and when you breathe fully and freely, and how differently you feel under each circumstance. You’ll be amazed at the contrast. Until next time, just breathe!