Living In Gratitude: The Power of Breath

Breathe. Let go. And remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure. ~Oprah Winfrey

With all the beauty, opportunity and abundance life brings, there are many things that can cause us stress, worry, irritation, anger, and anxiety.

One of the simplest and best ways to help us manage these and other emotions is with our breath.

When we are overcome with negative emotions, our breathing becomes shallow. Our inhalations and exhalations are short, with only results in heightening the effects of the emotion we’re experiencing.

By breathing properly, our bodies and minds benefit in the following 5 ways:

  1. Our muscles relax, reducing our physical tension
  2. Oxygen flows throughout our bodies, improving our body’s function and mental focus
  3. Blood pressure decreases
  4. Endorphins are released, providing feelings of well-being and pain relief
  5. Improved detoxification as our lymphatic system functions properly

To help your body and mind through breathing, try this three-minute exercise to help start your day feeling calm, centered and filled with energy. Try this first thing in the morning, right as you’ve gotten out of bed.

  • Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart.
  • Imagine tiny springs in all of your joints-springs in your ankles, knees, hips, elbows, wrists, shoulders, neck and jaw.
  • Now bounce just a little and feel these springs begin to move.
  • Start moving your body more vigorously, activating the springs in a rigorous but comfortable motion.
  • Feel your shoulders shake, your neck bob, your hands flap, your knees bend, your breath move freely in and out of your lungs.
  • Continue this movement for an entire minute.
  • When you are finished, let your body fall into stillness.
  • Feel the natural movement of your breath.
  • Notice how invigorated and alive your entire body feels.
  • Next, find a comfortable place and take a seat.
  • Relax your face and your jaw, your chest and your belly.
  • Take a deep inhalation into through your nose, feel the air flowing into your lungs.
  • Notice how the air bathes your body and spirit in a refreshing, cleansing energy.
  • Exhale deeply, once again allowing your body to relax.
  • Envision the next inhale of air as a gentle wave rising through your body, followed by an exhale as the wave of breath is released.
  • Continue this circular wave-like breathing pattern for two minutes.
  • Breathe in, breathe out…breathe in… breathe out….
  • Then sit quietly for a moment, allowing your breath to revert to its natural flow.
  • Enjoy the sensation of feeling awake, alive, energized and whole.

Anytime you notice emotions overtaking you, go back to your breath. Sit quietly, breath deeply, exhale completely. Let your breath relax and ground you as you feel your stress, anger or worry fall away.

May your day be filled with gratitude and good things!

Exercise adapted from Margaret Townsend, certified breathwork and Hakomi practitioner