“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take,
but by the moments that take our breath away.” —Maya Angelou
Imagine doing something over 17 thousand times per day and not noticing it, not even once? It sounds crazy, but you do it every day: breathing. Our lack of awareness when it comes to breathing is—as my yoga teacher would say—the biggest clue that we seldom live in the moment.
Yes, breathing should happen automatically. But paying attention to its rhythm for just a few moments each day can result in incredible benefits at all levels: physical, emotional and even spiritual.
1... 2... 3... Relax!
When I studied Life Coaching, the emphasis was in the process: the questions, the goals, the action plans, etc. Once I started coaching, I noticed my clients would arrive to the sessions in a rush, breathless and restless. Not a great place to start.
I realized that the first step to move forward was to actually pause and catch your breath.
Now, as soon as my clients come in, I ask them to close their eyes and breath deeply, visualizing the air coming in through their nose and into their lungs. To feel their lungs expanding, then pause and exhale slowly, with awareness. I ask them to repeat this for a total of 3 breaths.
The transformation is amazing: from scattered and stressed to present and centered.
Breathing balances our body and quiets our minds so we can focus, reconnect with ourselves and—during life-coaching sessions—find honest answers to our questions.
Physically, breathing not only keeps us alive. When we breathe with awareness, we help restore our body's internal movement and we massage our organs so they can oxygenate better.
Emotionally, it helps us to let go of limiting beliefs, release emotions and identify negative patterns. It also helps us relax and regain our center.
Spiritually, it helps us connect to the life force/energy, what some call Chi or Prana, thus increasing our level of awareness.
Ready to try?
Go ahead: sit comfortably. Be aware of your posture. How does your back feel? Your neck? Your feet? Close your eyes and inhale through the nose. Retain your breath to the count of 3 and exhale slowly through the nose. With each breath, notice how the air fills your lungs, your diaphragm... every space. Feel how it revives your strength and energy. When you exhale, notice how the air is getting warmer.
Repeat 5 to 10 times.
I usually recommend to do this exercise twice a day, once in the morning and once before bed time. Of course if you ever feel anxious, you can use this technique to regain your balance at any time.
I hope this exercise also helps you live more in the moment, not in a past that can't be changed, or in a future that may fuel anxiety. Because living in the moment is when things happen, things that, as Maya Angelou well said, "can take our breath away"... in a good way!
Niky Pauli s a certified Life Coach by the International Coaching Community, a Leadership Life Coach by the Sura Center and is trained as a Reiki practitioner. She's the founder of NikyCoach, which combines traditional Life Coaching tools with meditation and energetic healing modalities.
Photo Credit: Amanda Hirsch via Flickr