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Learning to Breathe Again

Part One of Four on Relationships

Today is a day to renew our own lives. This article will be the start of a series of on how to relax and get your soul and body together so that you can be whole when this is done. I want to start with breathing because learning to breath properly is important in the relaxation process—not only physically but emotionally. When you started through your divorce did you ever feel like you were in between breaths? Like the next one would never come? You would never again feel that fresh air in your lungs? Divorces can be a long drawn out process that completely takes your breath away. Learning to breathe again is an important step to recovery. No matter where you are in the process it is important to take that first breath and realize that you can.

Most people carry the weight of their stress in their necks and upper bodies, causing them to have a tight chest, so to speak. When they are under a lot of stress those actual breaths tend to be short and don’t completely fill all of the lungs. I’m sure you have felt that at times going through what you are. Normal breathing does only use a portion of the lungs but these situations and trying times in your life will cause you to use even less. So, in order to teach you how to take those actual deep breaths I keep telling you take, let’s start here.

I suppose you would probably like to know how your lungs work first so you can use that visual to picture in your head exactly what is happening when you breathe. Everyone knows that your lungs are two big sacks in your chest where air is pulled into. That air supplies your body with oxygen and as we know, we need that oxygen to survive. There is a little more to it that you need to know. They are not only two sacks, you have three lobes, kind of smaller sack, on one side and two on the other. Inside of those sacks are little pockets that collect the air and deliver it to the  little capillaries that travel by it. During that exchange the lungs give oxygen to the blood cells in the capillaries and in return the capillaries give the lungs back gases like carbon dioxide and nitrogen that the body doesn’t want and then your lungs expel it out. You know, in with the good and out with the bad. Around the lungs are muscles that pull your ribs in and out as you breathe, along with the diaphragm which pulls down, almost like a suction that triggers the rib muscles to pull out. As the diaphragm goes back up, it triggers the rib muscles to go back in. There are two sets of muscles in your ribs, one set runs the same direction as your ribs and the other is the opposite direction, one for in and one for out. Fast and slow breathing is controlled by a nerve which tells you whether you’re excited or not triggering relaxed breathing or stressed breathing. I think it’s a pretty cool system, but it’s so complicated that sometimes it gets misused. Being able to visualize this happening helps, it also will distract you when you are feeling the stress that seems to be waving in and out of your life. I tend to think while I am breathing, “in with the good, out with the bad.” You can think of that as in with your new life, out with your old.

I am going to go over a few breathing techniques. I would like for you to learn them all because at some point when you get better and better at relaxing you may be able to use all of them just in different situations. I use both because I have different modes I need to be in. I have a training-relaxation mode where it’s the end of the day and I am spending time with just me. I'm yelling at my children and getting through this divorce mode where I tend to need a little bit more stress relief. Different situations call for different breathing, you need to decide what is right for you.

Everybody’s breathing patterns can be different. Some people are chest breathers and they breathe from the top and some are belly breathers and they breathe from the bottom. What we need to try and decide is where your full comfortable breathing capacity is. That is our goal. To teach you to use your full capacity and relax so that when you are stressed you automatically train your body to kick into the breathing method you need. It does take work, but even if you are only doing it at the end of the day when you have time for you, you are still helping your body and soul to get through this.

When you first start to learn yoga, one of the very first things that they teach is breathing. Yoga teachers will try to teach you to use all your lungs every time you breathe. They teach you to expand your belly then your ribs, using all of what is supposed to be your full capacity.

Another method is used in the Tai Chi or Tai Gun classes. In this method you are really deep belly breathing. You concentrate on making that diaphragm go up and down as your belly, not your lungs, goes in and out. The one thing that may make this one hard for someone to learn is if they have had abdominal problems. Sometimes it can irritate the muscles in the abdomen and cause cramping if you’re not used it. It takes practice and with the stress of divorce or separation, some people may develop stomach problems, ulcers and such. It you can learn this method it will help with those problems, however, at first it may be uncomfortable.

Plain old deep breathing is usually meant more like the yoga type, but most people don’t explain it that effectively. They tell you to take a deep breath and you pull in all the air you can into the same area that you usually breathe, chest or belly. Most people do not take a full breath that fills all their lungs. If your lungs were filled to capacity your whole chest, along with your shoulders and your belly would be going out. Shoulders would drop down and go back and your belly would be evenly out with your chest. This is really difficult for anyone to do and our lungs weren’t really meant to do that. We have a reserve area that is meant to kind of keep space in case we need it. If you can take this kind of deep breath at least three times without getting dizzy or filling any kind of weird at all in your body, then you really don’t need to learn to deep breathe you already know how. You are the most relaxed person in the world and I want to be you. This would be the total goal of anyone looking to become relaxed. Taking a few breaths like that completely empties out all old air in your lungs, opens all the little pockets in there so they are not plugged up and completely sends new oxygen to every cell in your body causing them to relax. Oxygen is sort of a releasing agent; your body loves it. It does your body and soul some good to breathe. It will help trigger your body to let go of any tension and everything, in our body, will balance out. Most people who are going through any type of new situation tend to get stuck in the fight or flight mode—adrenaline rush so to speak. Their brain is telling their body to prepare for pain. It doesn’t matter if it physical or heart pain, your brain sometimes gets stuck there. Taking these deep breaths will help your brain realize you are letting it go. You are safe. You can relax.

Hopefully this has helped today to start you on your way to your first breath in your renewed life. Remember that is in important in any relationship, whether it is beginning or ending, to learn to breath and relax. Eventually all storms end and breathing through it will you connect, relax and weather any storms. If you have any ideas to add you can comment below or send them to me at [email protected] or find me on Facebook.