COVID. Life. COPD. Cancer.
I have reasons to be stressed.
Through years of dealing with illness, worry and stress I have learned that, for me, a regular meditation practice is the simplest and cheapest way to relax and calm myself when things start to get out of hand.
One of the main ways that the practice of meditation produces these effects is through controlled attention to breathing. Hindu and Buddhist teachings dating back thousands of years have described the beneficial effects of Prāṇāyāma, the practice of breath control. Over recent decades Western science has begun researching and reproducing these results and exploring the physiological and biochemical processes behind them.
I was reminded of this by an article on a new website: The Science of Coaching. In her article HK based coach Liza Rosén gives a great overview of the problems with the way most of us breathe, the benefits of paying attention to your breath and a practical exercise to try for yourself. It’s definitely worth a read. Like the other articles on the site this one provides links to studies and reports to back up the claims it contains. No fluffy lamma-hippy hand-waving here. : – )
For my own benefit and as a reminder for later reading I’ve copied some of the links:
- How to Breathe, Dr Belisa Vranich, TEDx / Youtube,
- Proper Breathing Brings Better Health, Scientific American, 2019
- The Effect of Diaphragmatic Breathing on Attention, Negative Affect and Stress in Healthy Adults, Frontiers in Psychology, 2017
- Learning diaphragmatic breathing, Harvard Medical School re: COPD
- Relaxation techniques: Breath control helps quell errant stress response Harvard Medical School, 2015, updated 2020
These two are behind paywalls:
- Breathe. Exhale. Repeat: The Benefits of Controlled Breathing, New York Times
- Could nasal breathing improve athletic performance?, The Washington Post, 2019