In this article we explore how we constantly damage our body with toxic thinking. By managing our breathing, we can counteract these negative impacts on our health. You will also be invited to learn a potent breathing exercise that will crush feelings of stress and worry.
One of the recurring themes throughout this collection of blogs is the tight connection between our body and mind; with a particular emphasis on how our thoughts can affect our bodies and vice versa.
How we damage our body just by the thoughts we do
Here is just one way we can cause damage to our body by the thoughts we do.
When you indulge in stressful thought forms you stimulate the sympathetic nervous system whose function is to activate the physiological changes associated with the fight or flight response (the stress response). When the fight-or-flight response kicks in the body is flooded with a cocktail of hormones that, among other things, cause the following:
- Acceleration of heart and lung action (fast shallow breathing)
- Paling or flushing, or alternating between both
- Inhibition of stomach and intestine
- Constriction of blood vessels in many parts of the body
- Dilation of blood vessels for muscles
- Liberation of metabolic energy sources for muscular action
- Dilation of pupils
- Relaxation of bladder
- Auditory exclusion (loss of hearing)
- Tunnel vision (loss of peripheral vision)
- Disinhibition of spinal reflexes
The above changes are usually associated with a highly amplified emotional response, including rage, aggression, anxiety or fear. This is a massive mobilization of the body for action, which is a good thing if you are confronted by a psycho with a spear. But mostly we cause this stress response by doing distorted thought-forms that have no basis in reality. So we are left all revved up with nothing to fight with or run from.
The negative results of a stressful lifestyle
When we do stressful high-pressure lifestyles we can also trigger the stress response at regular times during the day leaving us with a short fuse; road rage is a good example of the consequence of an overstimulated stress response. Thus a “stressful” life style builds on itself. As our body maintains a constant level of stress we become increasingly fatigued and depleted and so are more likely to respond with an elevated stress response to minor irritations, which in turn, increases our background level of stress, which negatively impacts on how we breathe and how we think; a vicious downward spiral is created. It is no surprise that research has clearly shown that constant stress and inadequate breathing can lead to a whole variety of physical and mental illnesses.
How correct breathing can bring on the rest and digest response
However, the solution is, as always, within us. The parasympathetic nervous system reverses the actions of the sympathetic nervous system via a rest-and-digest response which brings the system back into equilibrium after a stress episode. Deep slow breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system by stimulating the vagus nerve, which slows down our heart rate, lowers our blood pressure, and calms the emotional turbulence in the mind. What is more, deep breathing engages the abdominal muscles and diaphragm instead of the muscles in the upper chest, shoulders and neck which reduces strain and fatigue in these areas.
In conclusion the simple act of controlled breathing can immediately reduce the effects of stress.
Breathing meditation: exercise # 2
This simple breathing meditation, even if done for 5 – 10 minutes, can leave you feeling peaceful, refreshed and smiling. You can do this anytime you begin feel stressed out. Just take 5, find somewhere you won’t be disturbed and nourish yourself.
The best way to do this exercise is to memorize the steps and do it in your own time. The steps are as follows:
- Start with deep even slow breaths to a count of 4 counts in through the nose, hold for a count of 7, out through the mouth for a count of 8 Count reasonably slowly and breathe with your belly and diaphragm (if you can’t breathe with your diaphragm that’s ok – just breathe deeper than usual).
- As you breathe like this allow you awareness to rest in your heart region.
- After about 2 minutes, visualize a person in your life for whom you have felt a great deal of love and trust. Imagine feeling the love and appreciation flowing directly into your heart as you are breathing. Allow gratitude for this person to fill your mind and your heart.
- As you keep breathing stay with the emotions of love and appreciation. Now let the face of that person gently fade away so that only the feelings of love, appreciation, and gratitude remain. Let them expand out from your heart area to the rest of your body.
- Continue breathing and imagining the love for a further 5 minutes or longer.
Keep a keen eye out for beauty – it is all around you; even in the smallest things. You can find beauty in the most simple of things. As you notice something beautiful that captures your attention – take a deep slow breath and say thank you.
- 1.How we learnt to breath in a way that creates more stress and pain
- 2.How breathing correctly can crush the devastating effects of toxic thoughts
- 3.20 scientifically proven health benefits of diaphragmatic breathing
- 4.How to breathe with your diaphragm and get your energy back.