Breathing Exercise: Notice the Dynamics of Your Breath

An Article By Jeanie Marshall

Noticing the dynamics of your breath is a breathing exercise that can be a truly empowering experience that enhances your personal development. You may have a tendency to discount the power of noticing and using the dynamics of your breath because your breath is so much a part of you. It might just seem too simple.

Focus on Your Breathing

As an intentional practice, for short periods of time, giving your full attention to your breathing can be a very powerful and enlightening experience. It can even be a brief meditation. A “short period of time” might be measured by:

  • Numbers of breaths, for example, three in-breaths and three out-breaths; or
  • Minutes, for example, one minute or two or three; or
  • Time of an event, for example, sitting at a traffic stop light.

Choose whatever measurement you want, and then practice focused, intentional breathing at various times throughout the day. This breathing exercise will keep you balanced and filled with extra oxygen to help you to maintain greater stamina. This technique is the perfect answer to the often-stated claim "I don't have time to meditate."

I consider focusing on the breath to be a supplement to meditation, but it can also be an abbreviated meditation. Focusing on your breath is an excellent way to begin and end a meditation session. A breathing exercise such as this can be especially helpful for beginning meditators.

Automatic Vs. Intentional Breathing

Ordinarily, of course, your breath works in the automatic mode. Thank goodness for that! If your breathing needed your constant attention, you wouldn't have time for other activities.

Notice that your breath becomes different when you're giving your full attention to it. Automatic or unconscious breathing is different from intentional or conscious breathing. I've read that humans use different muscles when breathing in these two different ways. Perhaps that's true. It seems more logical that you use the same muscles, but you use them differently, similar to the difference between using your gluteus maximus muscles to walk down a hill as compared to walking up a hill.

A very interesting dynamic to notice is the actual shifting between automatic and intentional breathing. In other words, notice the movement or transition from automatic/unconscious breathing to intentional/conscious breathing. And also notice the shift in the other direction, from intentional to automatic.

This is an awareness breathing exercise. Just notice; there's nothing to analyze.

Dynamics to Notice in Your Breath

Some dynamics of your breath include pace, texture, sound, depth, length, and evenness. Noticing such dynamics as these makes you more aware of your own process of breathing and of shifting your attention. Your breath's pace may be fast or slow; its texture may be smooth or rough; its sound may be quiet or loud; its depth, shallow or deep; its length, short or long; its evenness, equal or unequal.

Notice these or other dynamics as they show up in the inhalation and the exhalation. Notice when and how the in-breath is similar or different from the out-breath. This awareness is a powerful breathing exercise.

In particular, I encourage you to give attention to the rhythm of your breath because the rhythm includes many of the dynamics that I've named. Rhythm has a discernible resonance, so as you become familiar with your breath's resonance you can change it if you wish.

The Rhythm of Your Breath

I like to help people to notice the rhythm of their breath because it helps them to attune to other rhythms and movement in their lives. For example, they might notice a particular breathing pattern that is replicated in other situations. After making the association, they change the rhythm in the breath, usually rather easily, and then they notice changes in the other situations follow naturally.

I notice this correlation frequently with my clients. Of course, discerning such connections does require the ability to read subtle energies. Usually, after I've identified and articulated the correlation to my clients, they relate to the idea. The key is to make changes in the least invasive, most natural ways.

Here are two specific examples:

Deidra was having trouble communicating with her boss, characterized by interrupting each other and half-stated ideas that led to misunderstandings. I noticed the same pattern of hesitation and shortness in her breathing, as if she rarely completed either the in-breath or the out-breath. I suggested some breathing exercises that helped her to be more aware of the rhythm of her breathing, which helped significantly, along with some other strategies, to manage herself more effectively with respect to her boss.

Tomas had great difficulty when he had to stand in front of a group to speak. He felt unbalanced and had less acute thinking. This, by the way, is a very common dynamic because making stand-up presentations is very stressful to many people. I decided to start with the easiest strategy: some simple breathing exercises to neutralize the old pattern and establish a new rhythm. He practiced daily, and especially before each presentation. The difficulty lessened immediately.

For Your Empowering Personal Development

Awareness of the breath in a variety of situations is an empowering approach to personal growth and development. Sometimes the simplest strategies are the most powerful. So, remember to breathe! And, even more specifically, remember to notice the rhythm and other dynamics in your breath.

Copyright © 2008 Marshall House. All rights reserved. Jeanie Marshall, Personal Development Consultant and Coach, has developed to encourage you on your path.

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