Literally, what’s the hurry?
Yogis count our lifespan in breaths, not years. The average person breathes 21,600 times a day. If you were to breathe 25% slower, about 16,200 times a day … You do the math. It adds up to a lot more time!
Breathing slowly makes intuitive sense. We breathe slowly when we’re relaxed. Our muscles soften and blood flow improves. Vital organs receive an oxygen bath as we breathe in. Improved blood flow means that everything in our body works optimally.
Our body tightens up when we are afraid or stressed. Muscles contract and fluids struggle to get through. We have brain fog or develop digestive problems. We find that we’re holding our breath or that it becomes shallow. We know this is NOT optimal for our physical health.
Researchers study meditators and we see it causes long term positive changes in the neural pathways in the brain. Their brainwaves are slower. I don’t need to have my brainwaves scanned to see the effects of relaxation, breathing and meditation in my life. My muscles are more relaxed and my shoulders no longer feel like cement. My usual breathing rate is 6 to 8 times a minute and is diaphragmatic, smooth and continuous.
Right now for just two minutes, tune in to your breath. Relax your belly and let your breath deepen. What does that feel like?
In our daily practice of relaxation, breathing and meditation we build resilience and gradually calm our whole system. We bring that out into our daily life.
We observe patterns. It’s like setting a Google Alert. When my shoulders tense up I notice and that gives me the opportunity to soften them. If my breath pattern changes I tune in and see why. I am familiar with energy and sensation in my body and I know when something new shows up or intensifies. What are the thoughts in my mind when this happens?
Mindfulness practices allow us to know ourselves deeply. We heal the long term effects of trauma and stress. We see when we are mentally rushing and notice the effects of this in our whole system.
This phrase “Breathe slowly, what’s the hurry?” comes from my meditation teacher Swami Veda and it is a multi-layered question. Where are you going in such a hurry? Is it an anxiety response from years of stress? What would happen if you were to slow down?
We can rush around and still breathe slowly. The body can move quickly without being stressed physically or mentally. True, it does take time to work with long standing habits. Your body will help you! It wants to be relaxed and calm.
Let the question settle into your mind several times a day. Take a few deep breaths. Relax your shoulders. What is the hurry?