Deep breathing is a rhythmic process of expansion and contraction. Through the breathing process, we can voluntarily influence the involuntary (e.g. sympathetic nervous system) that regulates blood pressure, heart rate, circulation, digestion and many other physical functions.
Therefore, breathing is viewed as a bridge, allowing us to control the otherwise uncontrollable functions of our bodies. When deep breathing, it is important for the experient to make sure they are using abdominal breathing and not chest breathing.
Chest breathing is common in individuals with chronic stress, which can lead to a restriction of the connective and muscular tissue in the chest, whereby resulting in a decreased range of motion in the chest wall. Due to this more rapid and shallow breathing, the chest does not expand as much as it would with slower and deeper breaths.
You can identify if you are a chest breather by placing your right hand on your chest and left hand on your abdomen. As you breathe, notice which hand rises more than the other does. If the hand on your chest raises more, then you are a chest breather.
If so, this type of breathing is inefficient, because the greatest amount of blood flow occurs in the lower lobes of the lungs, of which your breath is not reaching. This means you are receiving less oxygen transfer to the blood and a poor delivery of nutrients to your tissues.
Fortunately, you can alter your breathing habits via time and attention. Just remember to breath deeper, during meditation, and throughout your day-to-day.
A simple abdominal breathing technique is as follows….
- Take in a deep breath through your nose, and hold it for a count of 7.
- Slowly exhale through your mouth for a count of 8. As all the air is released, gently contract your abdominal muscles to evacuate completely the remaining air from the lungs.
- Repeat this cycle 4 more times for a total of 5 deep breaths with the goal of breathing at a rate of one breath every 10 seconds. This rate of breath, this slow rhythmic process, will be your “object” of effortless focus as a means to direct you towards a free-floating mindset.