My Trauma Touch Therapy clients are getting used to me reminding them to breathe. “Do we really hold our breath?” you might ask. The answer is: Yes. Probably, in certain situations, you do. And you might not even be aware of it.
Here’s an exercise you can do sitting right where you are. Close your eyes, don’t talk — just pay attention to yourself. You can do this anywhere as long as you can close your eyes for a minute. As you just pay attention to yourself, noticing the weight of your arms, feeling the ground under your feet, feeling yourself sink into your chair, direct some of that attention to your breath. As you do, what happens to it? Does it become more shallow, or does it deepen some?
Even as I wrote the above paragraph, I couldn’t help but notice my breath deepen. I didn’t have to make a conscious effort to take bigger breaths; it just happened naturally. How about you? Did you notice the same in your breath?
Paying attention to our breath helps it deepen. Clients always report that when this happens, they feel more relaxed. There’s a physiological reason for this. When our breath is shallow, this is usually a byproduct of our reactions being controlled by our sympathetic nervous system. This is our “fight-flight-freeze” reflex. If we’re getting ready to run or fight, our breath becomes shallow, our digestion shuts off, our heart races … you know the deal because you’ve experienced it. Right?
When we take a deeper breath and enrich our blood with more oxygen, we start to shift our reactions over to our parasympathetic nervous system (“rest and digest”). Naturally, our body starts to relax. As our brain receives more oxygen, it can think better, too, and get out of the trauma vortex.
So when you’re starting to feel panicky or worried, just pay attention to your breath and see what happens. (And if you’d like to learn more about the trauma vortex, Trauma Touch Therapy or any of my other modalities, just pop over to flowholisticwellness.com/contact.)
Remember: You can do anything!