Holding My Breath

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When I’m feeling stressed, there’s a chance that I won’t remember to breathe fully. Years ago I learned deep breathing through meditation and bodywork classes and I’m actually pretty decent at it — yet under pressure I sometimes still find myself forgetting to be a good belly breather and in more than one stressful situation, I’ve been known to literally hold my breath.  Recently my son taught me a technique he had learned, which he and I dubbed “bypass breathing”.  A person mentally bypasses his or her lungs while doing deep breathing exercises and sends the intention straight to the belly, expanding the breath into the abdomen without concentrating on expanding the chest muscles.  If I’m correct in my understanding, the theory is that we hold a lot of old fears around our hearts and in our chest and focusing on those areas — even during deep breathing meditative exercises — may subtly cause some reawakening of angst .  He has set reminders on his phone to prompt him to pause at regular intervals, making time to put this into practice during the day.  Just yesterday I read an article in the New York Times about mindfulness and how much of a market it’s become — yet no matter how many mindfulness products are purchased, they don’t do much unless we actually use the techniques that we learn.  I’ve been doing a lot of experimenting with bypass breathing and I like it a lot — and the more I use it, the more I find myself naturally breathing that way all the time. I recommend trying it.

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