"Let's start," I say.
"Sit or lie down in a comfortable position, with your eyes open, and come back to the breath. Take three deep breaths, and at the third inhale you hold it for a moment, and at the exhale you close your eyes and let go of all tension..."
As I see my clients' chest rising and falling along with the breaths, building up more air and tension as we count up to three and then, it's released. When we continue the session with more excercises into deeper relaxation the chest calms down, as the rest of the body makes way for a deeper, smoother breath.
About 90 minutes later, when the hypnotherapy session comes to an end, the breath has changed it's course. A smooth, very subtle rhythm has emerged from the abdominal area. There is no muscle tension left. When people open their eyes the one thing I hear them say most often is: 'Wow, I feel so deeply relaxed...'
The words and pictures we surround ourselves with come into our consciousness and immediately affect our emotions and our nervous system. If the nervous system is triggered for a stress response, our breath accellerates, resulting in faster and higher breathing. If the nervous system is triggered to relax en release, the breath with also calm down, lower it's pace and come from the belly. It's not a conscious response, it just happens automatically.
But it works both ways! We can use this knowledge the other way around too and utilize breathing to work us back to happy feelings and calm thinking. While slowing down our breath deliberately,
You will notice how thoughts and emotions calm down with it... It is a proven method to reduce anxiety and trauma-related stress responses.
And did you know that breathing through the mouth triggers a stress reponse in our brain? Always try to breath in through the nose, and if you feel particularly stressed, out through the nose too.
So let's try it!
Concentrate on taking a deep breath in through the nose in 4 counts, then hold for 4 counts, and then release and exhale through the mouth for 4 counts...
Repeat 10 times.
If you have practiced this version a few times, and you want to deepen the effect then change the counts to 4 counts in, 7 counts hold and 8 counts out.
Can you notice the difference in how you feel, and what kind of activity is going on in your mind?
I have just read this amazing book by James Nestor - Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art and I found it so such an eye opener on how our mind and body are affected by the quality of our breathing. A great read for this summer!