By: Sherika Martinez
For many people, this time of year can be one of the most challenging, and not without reason. Some may be susceptible to seasonal moody blues, brought on by seemingly endless days of dreary gray skies, slushy streets and the shyness of the sun. Others may be stressed by the abnormally large amount of snow days, scrabbling to find some way to care for their kids despite their own busy schedules resuming as normal. Still others may be feeling trepidatious over residual bills now coming in from the spending of the holiday season.
Regardless of the reason for the heaviness of the season, there is one sure way to regain some equilibrium in this chaotic world: take a breath. In my previous blog, I described in detail how science has found a common link between breath and mood, specifically pertaining to a study done by Pierre Phillipot who demonstrated that certain breath patterns engender specific emotions, and vice versa.
The link between emotion and mood is the reason wholeness-based movement practices, such as yoga or Qi Gong, highlight the importance of breath to invite not only a softening in the mind, but in the body as well.
One type of breathing, the Breath of Serenity, also known as the Box Breath, is not only helpful in calming riled emotions, but actually helped me soothe the nausea I experienced on an airplane after some particularly harrowing turbulence. Feel free to give it a try the next time you find yourself all a-dither.
Breath of Serenity
- Take a moment to settle into your body, breathing normally, as you purposefully scan the various segments of your body, taking the time to feel your legs, arms, spine, front body, back body and crown of your head in space. Notice the gentle rise and fall of your torso as you breathe your normal, uncontrolled breath.
- When you are ready, begin counting your inhale, allowing it to stretch to a count of five beats, allowing the breath to travel deep into your belly.
- At the end of the inhale, when your lungs are at their fullest, hold the breath in for a count of five beats.
- Exhale all your breath to a count of five beats.
- When your lungs are completely emptied, hold the breath out for a count of five beats.
- Continue breathing in this way, keeping the five count going for 5 - 10 rounds of breath. If five beats is too long or too short for your personal preference, feel free to change the number of beats, but keep that number consistent through the inhale, exhale and the pauses in between.
This type of breathwork is extremely helpful in inducing a calm, meditative state - not only because it keeps the breath even and consistent, but also because the act of counting engages the mind, preventing it from wandering too much and dwelling on what ails you.
Give it a try the next time you find yourself unduly ruffled, or better yet, with a partner or friend with whom you are in the midst of a conflict. Its power to de-escalate and re-center is truly a profound gift.