The iAM Tip of the week is about increasing productivity using controlled breathing. There are two things I want to highlight about the breath:
1) Did you know that if you are feeling anxious, for example, before giving a public talk, taking deep breaths in might actually increase your anxiety? Too much oxygen and not enough carbon dioxide can cause anxiety and an agitated stated. On the contrary too much carbon dioxide in the body can cause depression and fatigue. The solution is not deep breathing but controlled breathing. By slowing down the inhale and exhale you re-balance your system.
2) The second point is that the mind oscillates between the past and future. Our productivity and creativity is compromised when we are not living in the present moment. But how can we be present to what is when the mind is so busy? As rightly pointed out by Einstein, “you can’t solve a problem with the same mind that created it.” This is where the breath comes in. The breath is directly related to our emotions and mind. By controlling the breath we can control our mind and emotions.
There are many practices around breath work like the Sudarshan Kriya, which is what I do and highly recommend to everyone. But what I am demonstrating today is a very simple process for slowing your breathing that can be done easily any time that you feel stressed or the need to energize yourself.
THE SLOW BREATHING PROCESS
Sit in a comfortable position, with a straight back. Close your eyes or soften your gaze and observe the quality of your breath – are you breathing fast or slow, is it deep or shallow. Start to relax your body – your feet, legs, stomach, chest, arms, back, shoulders, neck, and face. Relax your eyes, your mouth, and jaw line, your forehead, simply let go and let any tension melt away.
Now start to slow your breathing – count to four as you inhale and count to four as you exhale. Let there be a natural pause at the end of each inhale and exhale – count to two at each pause if you like. If you are new to deep breathing, you can put your one hand on the chest and one on your stomach and as you breathe in make sure that your hand on the stomach is pushed forward and when you exhale your hand on stomach goes back in. Continue this slow breathing process for a few minutes or even a few rounds can be enough to slow down your mind.
ADVANTAGES OF SLOW BREATHING
1) Energizes the body
2) Helps to de-stress
3) Slows down the mind so you can think clearly
4) Helps you become more present to dealing with current situation
5) Become more mindful. (you can read more about mindfulness in business here).
6) Before public speaking practice slow deep breathing to feel more centered and don't feel out of breath when you speak.
7) If you have trouble sleeping at night practice slow breathing, emphasizing the slow exhale
If you feel any discomfort with slow breathing please discontinue and check with your doctor. The idea is to be able to make your breathing cycles become smooth, deep, and slow.
OTHER LINKS FOR RESEARCH & MINDFUL BREATHING
The Art of Living Foundation hosts published research articles related to benefits of breath work.