Today, we're starting our Self-Care September where everything begins - with the breath.
I recently read (and was captivated by) a book written by James Nestor called "Breath." I initially checked this book out of the library like I do but before I'd even gotten half-way through, I ordered a copy for myself. As a long-standing advocate of mindful breathing, I delighted in this deep-dive narrative into the physical, mental, and emotional power of using our breath to calm and heal.
The information Nestor shares is both anecdotal and scientific, stemming from both ancient civilizations and modern times. In essence, what he says is that no matter what you eat, how much you exercise, how skinny or young or wise you are, none of it matters if you’re not breathing properly.
He goes on to reveal that as a species, humans have lost the ability to breathe correctly, with grave consequences. By assuming a function as automatic as breathing needs little to no attention, we are creating multitudes of both physical and psychological problems that could be tampered or avoided altogether if we simply committed ourselves to intentional breathing patterns.
There are, of course, a number of different breath work counts you can use to elicit any number of different outcomes for your body and/or state of mind. For example, breathing rapidly can warm you up, while repeatedly making your exhale longer than your inhale will activate your parasympathetic nervous system (the one that allows you to "rest and digest" with ease.)
But one of the most fascinating tidbits of information this book administered is that across multiple cultures, spanning both centuries and geography, the importance of a 5.5 second inhale followed by a 5.5 second exhale repeats itself relentlessly.
Self-Care September Day 1: Practice Mindful Breathing
I absolutely encourage you to read the whole book, but the relevant takeaways for today's Self-Care Suggestion are as follows:
1. Breathe through your nose.
2. Send each breath all the way into your belly.
3. Breathe slowly - 5.5 seconds in, 5.5 seconds out
4. Exhale completely
I love you and I'll see you soon!