Frequently I am asked how to regain relaxation in moments of anger or tension. Most of the time I hear myself answering: “Breathe”. Sometimes I also say “inhale, smile, exhale”. That’s the moment, when a lot of people look at me in disbelief. Yes, it sounds simple – and so it is. And our greatest benefit is, that breathing is always with us. And far too rarely we actively use it to put ourselves into a better state.
Our breath is vital and fortunately works automatically and without our active involvement. And it’s exactly because of it working all by itself that makes us most if the time paying too little attention to our breath. Your breath is the perfect companion for relaxation.
Normally, breathing rhythm and intensity adapt to the circumstances. If we are tense, excited or need more energy for some other reason, our breathing becomes faster and shallower. If we relax in bed or on the couch, we breathe deeper and slower. The amazing thing is: the mechanism also works the other way round.
When we breathe slowly, consciously and deeply, we send a signal to our body telling it to relax. This works both – in tough situations, e.g. when I get upset about something, and during relaxation exercises after a demanding day.
Why don’t you give it a try? Take some time to devote yourself to your breathing. Find a quiet place with no interruptions for the next 2-3 minutes.
Choose a comfortable position, sitting or lying. Make sure that your stomach and chest can expand freely while breathing. When you are ready, close your eyes. Now pay attention to how your breath flows in and out all by itself. Let go of all thoughts and everything that still occupies your mind in this moment, relax more and more with each exhalation. Feel how you become calmer with every breath and how tensions in your body slowly release. Now put one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach. Next time you breathe in, consciously feel how the air first fills your chest and then your belly – and how both relax again when you breathe out. Now enjoy two to three breaths in your own pace. If you like, pay attention to the breathless moments at the end of each inhalation and at the end of each exhalation. Enjoy for three more conscious breaths and give them loving attention.
Now slowly return attention to your environment. Stretch yourself, yawn if you feel like it and slowly open your eyes .
Enjoy the relaxed mood, take it with you into your day and stay calm.