Updated: Sep 14, 2021
My teacher said recently,
"Your breath is always in the present moment."
That simple phrase made me stop. It's true. The breath is now.
There's one inhale....
there's an exhale.....
there's another, you can't hold on to them.....
well, you know what I mean, they're not permanent.
That's one of the reasons why bringing our mind to our breath helps us to calm and find relaxation. Stress can be caused by lots of things but usually it's a result of fear. Past fear can be held in our bodies as tension and pain and it puts our physical self under stress. Future fear, fear of what's to come, is apparent in our thoughts and beliefs and affects our mental health, and sometimes our physical health too. But breath, that's in the present moment.
When you stop and notice your breath, no matter where you are or what else is going on around you, immediately your heartrate lowers, pulse and blood pressure decreases, the thoughts slow down making it easier to think clearly. In other words, mindful breathing stimulates our 'rest and digest' response, our parasympathetic nervous system, the opposite to that 'flight, fight or freeze' response we experience in high stress situations.
The more we practice this skill of mindful breathing the better. It doesn't need to be a long practice either. Just three mindful breaths a few times a day, taking a longer practice when you have the time, can be beneficial. It can be done anywhere, in any position and by anyone. In a queue at the supermarket, at the traffic lights, you could teach it to your kids, or other loved ones and it could be your superpower - look at what I can do, I can control my nervous system!