I haven’t blogged much recently. After finishing a major piece of writing – crime fiction – and returning to work, I needed a break of sorts. I’ve been polishing my piano repertoire with Mozart, Chopin and Liszt, and practising my four languages.
I’ve also found time to deepen my interest in breathing. I first became curious during a stint of CBT, during which the practitioner gave me a book and CD that included various exercises. At the time, I was still smoking – quite heavily, in fact – and I had a high rate of breaths per minutes, roughly 16/17.
Four years on, my breathing rate has dropped to 10 or 11, and I feel much calmer. Quitting smoking played a crucial role in this, but so has abdominal breathing.
I don’t feel qualified to make suggestions about which breathing exercises people should attempt – but clearly simple breathing techniques done in a relaxed manner should benefit most people. Obviously, anyone with a medical condition should check first, but generally there’s something for everyone.
Just a few of my thoughts.
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I’ve reached that point again – polishing a novel, sending it out and waiting to hear the outcome. In the meantime, I’m trying to relax. By that, I mean paying close attention to my breathing, slowing it, allowing the breath to take on its own natural rhythm.
I’ve read lots about it. Apparently, the improved breathing rate has a wide range of positive effects on a person’s health and nervous system. There are many articles on the internet and in popular magazines, but I do wonder whether the reader needs to take more care and critically evaluate some of the claims. For instance – how safe is it for the average person to alter their breathing rate without any supervision or professional advice? Can it, in fact, do more harm than good? I always hunt for the science behind the breathing technique – and if I can’t find any science to back up the claims, I give the technique a miss.
At the moment, I’m experimenting with Coherent Breathing – a technique that involves the person breathing in through the nose for six seconds, then out for the same duration, creating a sense of balance or symmetry.
Personally, I’ve found simple breathing techniques beneficial – for example, four in, eight out. Obviously, the breather would need to build up to the longer exhalations/pauses; plus she or he would have to avoid air hunger at all costs, as that would defeat the object of the exercise. So, always read the science and make sure the breathing technique will not exacerbate an existing medical condition (crucial!) – and enjoy.
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