Within the first 10 seconds of life outside of the womb, we take our first breath. Nobody actually teaches us how to breath and yet it is a complex system essential to life. The health of every cell in the body depends on this crucial exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide. So even though we did just fine taking that first breath, stress, pain, emotions, blocked passages, unfriendly climate, sickness, and other circumstances may change our breathing pattern to one that is far from optimal.
If you recognize that stress or any one of those factors listed is affecting you, now is a good time to check-in on your breathing. Summertime delivers many opportunities to be with nature. You can even use these seasonal opportunities to train your body to have a deep and balanced breath. Whether you are in the woods, or walking along the ocean surf, use nature to train your body for wellness. From anxiety to pain you can ease down the magnitude of suffering, simply by conscious breathing.
Here’s a neat experiment you can try on yourself: Inhale through the nose and exhale through your mouth. Don’t force it, just let it be natural. Notice how deep or shallow your inhalation is, and how quickly or slowly you exhale. Next, find a plant or flower with a gentle aroma. Assuming you are not allergic to it, repeat the test. Breath in through the nose and out through the mouth.
Notice how deep you breathe in when the scent of the flower or even a summer berry touches your nose. Notice how your exhale slows, and how peaceful you become. You may even notice how hungry you become for the next delicious breath. Enjoy your discovery. Your olfactory bulb will remember the pleasure of deep and balanced breathing. The skill will be very useful when you find yourself in pain or other stressful situations. Find an aroma you enjoy, and slowly, deeply, breath it in…letting go slowly, evenly.
I personally cannot get enough of breathing in the fragrances of summer. The smell of the ocean, the scent of the rain and the fresh aroma of every tree on my hiking path calls me closer. Often I’ll stop to take a deep, luxurious inhale of a flower poking its head out from my garden. As I consciously breathe in, I imagine every cell in my body accepting the gift. I hope you will try it too! Remember though, some plants can be too strong for you to take in their aroma so start your conscious summer breathing experiment with plants you already know and enjoy.
Let us know how your breathing experiment goes, we’d all love to hear from you!