Breath is the most useful bridge to the inside of the body and the nervous system. Even though this is something we do every day, most of us don’t use our breathing to its full potential. Chronic pain and emotional stress have a direct connection to the quality of our breathing – conversely, breathing is directly connected to physical ease and deep relaxation on an ongoing basis.
Here’s a simple and interesting exercise you can use to begin exploring your breath. Sit comfortably someplace where you won’t have distractions. See if you can pay attention to the physical feeling of your breath, without forcing it – in other words, let your breathing happen naturally, don’t make it happen – and just observe.
How does it feel? Is it difficult/easy to “find” your breathing? Do you feel tension/relaxation in your breath? What parts of your body move when you breathe? Do you find that you get distracted from feeling the physical movement of your breath? How big does your breath feel? Is the inhale the same length as the exhale? Do you hold your breath in between inhaling and exhaling or vice versa?
When doing this exercise it is common to feel any of the qualities mentioned above, as well as many other subtle or more pronounced sensations. When working with your breathing, it is extremely important to spend time with this exercise, really getting to know the quality of your particular breathing pattern.