The Art of Breathing versus the Act of Breathing by Zoë Coyle
My advice to you is take a cigarette break. Just do it without the ciggie. Nicotine is a stimulant right? Immediately after inhalation, there is a kick caused in part by the drug’s agitation of the adrenal glands, resulting in the discharge of epinephrine or adrenaline. So why is it that smokers feel relaxed when they smoke? It’s because they are taking the time to breathe, deeply.
I’ve been teaching voice, relaxation and mindfulness of the breath for years. It’s something I think about in my own life daily. If you meditate, do yoga or sing, you already understand the importance of your breath. With it, you oxygenate your brain and you release the stress hormone adrenaline on your exhalation. Breathing is your superpower. It calms you down and enables you to turn up, be present and focused. It dissipates self-consciousness and allows you to navigate stressful situations better, without being as reactive or flooding.
Be kind to yourself. Empower yourself and reacquaint yourself with your breath. Do you snatch air into your chest, or do you drop it down into the depths of your body? Obviously, your lungs don’t extend into your thighs but the art of breathing as opposed to the act of breathing requires you to use all the space available to you to draw in your breath rather than the tiny portion most of us use. Snatching breath is the habituation of the busy and harassed. Deep breathing is the landscape of the calm, centred and controlled.
Look at babies; they know how to do it. Notice your breath when you are relaxed and about to drop off to sleep. Peel the covers off the torso of your lover as they slumber beside you, they will be breathing deeply, their ribs and back expanding to accommodate oxygen. We can all do it; we’ve just forgotten how.
So take a pretend ciggie break. Or take three deep slow breaths. Or learn to meditate. Or use box breathing - four counts in, four counts hold, four counts to release, four counts to hold and repeat. All of these heighten performance and concentration while also being powerful stress relievers.
Go forth and breathe deeply my friends, and let’s all just calm it down and feel flushed with wellbeing.