Breathing out a great way to let all that emotion go
WORK with me here. Stop and take a deep breath. Then another. Try drinking the air into your lungs to expand your chest. Now try another to expand your stomach. And breathe. Just breathe.
This week we acknowledge Men's Health Week, and I want to focus on a much neglected aspect of Men's Health and wellbeing: breathing.
Of all the necessities for us as human beings, breathing is the thing that we need to do the most of.
A quick internet search reveals that, depending on conditions, we can live:
- Around 21 days without food.
- Around three to five days without water.
- Over 18 days without sleep (just don't look for any rational conversation on the way).
- A lifetime without sex (although this may be highly subjective indeed!)
- Only around six to eight minutes without breathing - but it is highly recommended that you do not try and test this.
Pretty basic really. However, it astounds me how little we actually breathe, and how we just don't take it very seriously, at least until something goes wrong.
From my days in teaching and working in and around schools I started to notice this in the classroom.
We have an expectation that our kids sit down, shut up, and stay still. Our hallucination of what education means says that this is good classroom management.
The ramification is that many of us have grown up being taught not to breathe. Stifle it. Hold it in. Shut it down.
When we don't breathe we lock emotion into our body. Our emotion gets stuck and, guess what, if we feel our emotion is stuck, then we feel stuck.
One of the things I have come to discover is that when we breathe, we allow emotion to flow through our body.
To let it go. To express it. It is no coincidence that when we breathe in, we call it… wait for it… inspiration!
When we don't breathe we lock emotion into our body. Our emotion gets stuck and, guess what, if we feel our emotion is stuck, then we feel stuck. Trapped even. Locked into the situation. Tunnel vision. No way out. Walls closing in.
Comfortable? Keep breathing.
Because when we don't breathe, we actually stop our own natural flow, we shut down our capabilities to naturally respond, to live our own innate rhythms. We even shut down our ability to problem solve.
Any personal trainer or fitness instructor knows that a good workout, a good cardio session, even a good walk around the block is good for our emotions, good for our souls.
It makes us feel better. Why? Because we are letting ourselves breathe.
And here is a little bonus tip for anyone reading this who is dealing with depression: try skipping. Yes, skipping. Down the street, without a rope. Because when you are doing this you are breathing through the depression.
So do something really valuable for yourself this week. Take the time to find out how you breathe.
Then decide to breathe some more, deep and glorious breaths. Fill your lungs, and fill your soul. Breathe out, and let it all go.
Paul Stewart is a Personal Coach with Compassion Coaching: www.compassioncoaching.com.au, and also supports the inSight Men's Circle, run through Hopelink: 4979 3626.