Despite the development of new drugs and medical treatments our quality of life seems to be getting poorer … due to rising levels of stress resulting in physical and mental dysfunction. Guest writer David Hegarty explains how good breathing habits can improve our wellness and be the foundation of a healthy lifestyle.
For decades, scientists and the medical profession have worked together to develop drugs and surgical systems to combat illness. It’s an unenviable task. Illness is one of the banes of modern society. It has always been, of course, it’s just that up to now there weren’t names for the maladies that afflicted people. And a lot of the main cause of our sicknesses today didn’t exist before.
While we were never as well off, neither did we have to endure circumstances the likes of which we have today. It’s ironic, that as we progress in technology and in ways to improve the standards of living, we seem to be hitting an all-time low in the quality of life.
The quality of life
Computers, phones and iPads were introduced as labour-saving, time-saving devices. Yet we’ve never had less time. There is no hiding place, for anyone. No matter where we are, we’re available, on call, just a dial away.
And the results of this are showing in stress, distress, and in physical and mental dysfunction as we sink into the morass of fear, worry and anxiety that the pace of living today extracts. There isn’t much we can do about progress; that’s Man’s destiny; for better or for worse. And we haven’t adapted yet to the pace, the speed, the relentlessness of it all.
This style of life is taking a terrible toll on our well-being. We’re in a constant state of Red Alert. Our nervous systems, brains, hearts and minds are flat out. We’re all the time ’on’. There is no let up.
The turmoil is constant and effects of this are catastrophic to the human mind, the human body, and the very soul of our existence. Stress, distress, fear and worry, according to the World Health Organization, are massive contributory factors to modern illnesses.
We were not designed to live the way we do today. So, what can we do?
We can do a lot.
The solution to modern levels of stress
For a start, recognising the problem gives us an advantage. Once we see it, what it does, and how we can make effective changes to lessen the effects, we’re already on something useful.
For what it comes down to now, is not so much what’s happening to us in life, but how we decide to let ourselves respond to it.
Because that’s what the main problem is … our reaction to events. And the good news is that while we can’t always do much about what’s going on around us, we can always make some change to how we react to it. Most of us are in a state of reaction, all the time.
I’m sure you’ve noticed that when you’re stressed, what bothers you more deeply than anything is how you feel, emotionally, and physically, because of the situation. It’s well recognised in the field of psychology that what undoes a person in conflict is not so much the situation as the reaction to it.
People are often overwhelmed. They may have the resources, the abilities, that would get them through the crisis, but fear, anxiety, physical dysfunction, due to stress, disenables them.
How can we help ourselves in situations like this?
Helping ourselves to relieve stress
One way to help ourselves is by bringing our awareness into the equation. When we’re aware of how we’re using ourselves, we change instantly. Our minds take on cognisance of the fact that we don’t have to be the way we are. We don’t have to gasp in terror, become too petrified to move, let our bodies go rigid and our minds go blank.
Awareness of how we’re using ourselves allows us to shift the focus from the problem with which we’re faced, to a possible solution, however remote.
Because of this reframe, our minds begin to search for a solution of some kind. This then can be reinforced by using our breathing patterns. Yes, that’s right, by using our breathing patterns.
How to use breathing to relieve stress
When we react in shock, our breathing goes into overdrive. We tend to gasp in short sharp ineffective breaths that alert the brain, the nervous system and the body into a state of alarm that can get totally out of control.
So when we become aware, and then use that awareness to slow our breathing, bringing it down to a calm, even, steady rhythm, we connect with that part of the nervous system that calms the emotions, quietens the mind, brings us back to earth. It grounds us. This then allows us think more clearly, respond more effectively.
What we need to do then is to bring it into our lives on a daily basis. We need to practise it regularly, calming the emotions, soothing the nervous system, quietening the mind. Practising this on a daily basis retrains the mind and body. It develops a sense of calm and comfort in daily life.
In time, that state becomes the prevailing condition. We change how we feel, and how we think. Our previous erratic and panicky reactions lessen. We gain composure. We become calmer, more at ease. Life changes. We don’t have the constant feeling of dread which misaligns posture, shallows breathing, and interferes with our circulation; causing all kinds of physical and mental disruption.
I’ve seen it regularly over the past 50 years. That’s how long I’ve been teaching and training people in the art of healthy living. Those principles never change. People introduce so-called discoveries in the Mind/Body field. But the ‘new’ discovery, on examination, will be found to be another way of changing breathing patterns or thought awareness.
As a test for yourself, try this.
How to develop good breathing habits
Stand comfortably straight. Let air drift in slowly, through your nose . Fill your lungs comfortably. Don’t force it.
Let your lungs fill from the bottom up. Slowly.
Let you hand lie lightly on your stomach as you breathe. It should come out from the body slowly as you fill the bottom part of your lungs first.
When your lungs are filled, let the air out, through mouth or nose, and gently tighten your stomach muscles. The hand on your stomach will go in slightly, as the stomach gently tightens and the lungs empty.
Do this four times. Then stop. If you feel any lightness or dizziness, halt. As you practise regularly, your vital lung capacity will increase, your circulation will improve, your breathing efficiency will be a lot better and you’ll have the added advantage of more air, more oxygen, more energy and better concentration.
Good regulated breathing habits enhance the whole body’s efficiency and you may, like a lot of people, find a reduction in breathlessness, much more energy, and a more efficient use of the food you put into yourself. Your tension levels will very likely drop, and you will find yourself calmer, more composed, and very much more at ease.
Time and again, this has proved invaluable in alleviating symptoms of illness, if not curing them.
The simple remedies have shown, time and time again, that when they’re applied constantly, with a bit will and a bit of attention, to be the best. That’s definitely what I’ve witnessed over the years.
David Hegarty has been teaching his Dynamic Health system to thousands of people who have learned the principles, practised them, and enjoyed the rewards. Over the years, he has developed and refined courses that can be done in the privacy of the home or in the convenience of the car and which can be adopted by anyone, at any age. Check out www.dynamichealth.ie.
You can contact David on +353-87-2321128 or at email@example.com.
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