By Christopher Daniel Gonzalez, CPA MST CHHC CR
Stop and count to ten! Sound familiar? It is a phrase my mother often told me as a kid when my emotions got the best of me. For those who know me closely, they are quick to point out I was quite the riot when I was young and at times failed to listen to her wise words. Oddly enough, I have found a way to carry this invaluable tool with me ever since—to stop and slow down.
We are all (all 7 billion of us, to be exact) inhabitants of this beautiful planet, a place with so much to offer each and every one of us, every single day. I get fired up just thinking about the infinite realm of possibilities and opportunities, and it is my hope you have harnessed the power to do much of the same. Whether you like it or not, living together requires us to breathe the same air—the good, the bad, and at times the ugly. It is a world of dualities—hot/cold, open/close, up/down, and in this case breathing in and out. As such, the breath of your neighbor simultaneously becomes yours.
We are all interconnected in this vast universe, and it is important to understand that what we do to one, we do to another. Your decisions affect me and vice versa. As life forms, we are a vibrant source of energy composed of cells. Our body’s tissues and organs are made up of these cells and in order for us to stay alive they must function properly. Therefore, our health is directly related to the quality of our breathing and every part of the body is affected. As we begin to control our breath, consequently we begin to control our thoughts, feelings, emotions and ultimately our life, resulting in a centered state of mind.
The reality is, we live in a fast paced yet incredibly fascinating world that at times has us doing many things unconsciously. One of the most important functions we often pay too little attention to is breathing. For the first twenty-five years of my life, I was never taught how to properly breathe. Could learning how to breathe hold the answers to most of our world problems? Perhaps you have wondered at times if you are even doing it right.
Several years ago, as I began my transition to a healthy, sustainable, and spiritual lifestyle, I was shocked to discover how little I knew about the importance of proper breathing. Most of us take our pattern of breathing for granted because it happens automatically, thanks to our autonomic nervous system. Modern society offers so many different modalities and therapies to help individuals pursue health, but perhaps the greatest breakthrough is awakening to the fundamental power that lies within our own bodies. When we give attention to the way we breathe, we can optimize this power through breathwork.
A good health practice is to keep your nasal passages clear and healthy by spending time in communion with natural environments such as a green space, a park or a beach. In my personal practice, I spend time outside every day, and have even shifted much of my indoor exercise regimen to the outdoors. This allows me to access cleaner air, and enables my body to achieve optimal thriving health as nature intended.
A simple breathing exercise I use in the morning and evening is a relaxation technique which is commonly known as ‘4-7-8’ in the health and wellness industry. This method begins by slowing down the mind and subsequently your breath by exhaling through the mouth and then closing it. You then inhale through your nose to a count of 4, hold your breath for a count of 7, and then exhale through the mouth for a count of 8. This is considered one breath cycle, and you can repeat as many times as you feel necessary.
In addition to conscious breathing techniques, an important addition to my healthy lifestyle routine has been practicing yoga. Not only has it proved to increase flexibility, endurance and stamina in my daily cross-training workouts, it has greatly enhanced my ability to control my breath and slow down the noise that can be present in our daily lives.
Breathing—so powerful yet so simple. Could it really be possible that our breath holds solutions to many of our world problems? I’m no fortune teller, but I am certain our breath has the power to create a massive ripple effect and leave our world a better place!