Breathe in, breathe out. You can’t help it of course, but you can bring consciousness to it -– and that in turn changes your breathing. Breathing is one of the few activities that we do unconsciously but that we can affect consciously. Meditation can change the quality of our breathing, and breathing deeply can change the way we walk through life.
Breathing Deeply in Meditation
We generally recommend you breathe naturally in meditation. When meditating you may notice your breathing drop, from your chest to your belly. We suggest you notice this, and encourage it. By breathing from your belly you use the lowest part of your lungs, where the highest density of blood vessels live, bringing the most oxygen to your cells. Sitting up straight with good posture is helpful for this as well.
The Benefits of Breathing Deeply
When we breathe deeply, the hormones that create our fight or flight response naturally decrease, and our relaxation response (also called the parasympathetic response) eases in.
And there’s more. When you spend time breathing more deeply, you increase what doctors call your heart rate variability. This is the difference between your heart rate when inhaling and exhaling. In stress mode this variability goes down. Children naturally have high variability, but this drops off as we get older. Studies have shown that high heart rate variability is very good for your health. Heart attacks, anxiety, difficulty sleeping all decrease, as well as overall mortality rates. We have a doctor friend who uses meditation and biofeedback to effectively increase this variability to benefit her patients.
Just another reason to use our cushions regularly. Are you still breathing? We hope so.
You may be interested in our other sitting tips on posture, setting up your foundation and starting a new practice.