Spiritual and emotional wellness: Breathing techniques

By using special breathing techniques from traditional Chinese healing, a person can develop increased spiritual and emotional wellness.

According to Grandmaster Erle Montaigue, Chinese martial arts and healing instructor, the breath is the between the mind, body, and spirit. The breath is the tool used to unify and bring harmony to the mind, body, and spirit. Breathing techniques can be used to facilitate mental clarity, mental focus, increased energy, relaxation, and weight loss.

Spiritual and emotional wellness: Breathing techniques

The first thing a person needs to learn is how to breathe from their belly. When you inhale your stomach should move out and expand. When you exhale your stomach should move in and contract. This facilitates deeper, more relaxed breathing leading to increased lung capacity and more oxygen in the blood. When there is more oxygen in the blood this facilitates heightened metabolism and more efficient elimination of waste from the body.

One should lie in a comfortable position, placing their hands over their navel. Breathe naturally in and out through the nose using your stomach to move your hands up and down. This is called natural or baby breathing. Natural breathing helps to re-acquaint us with the basics of living, reduces stress, and helps alleviate anxiety.

Once a person has redeveloped natural breathing and consistently is able to breath from their stomach as they stand, sit, walk, and move about through their day then they are ready to move on to more specific breathing techniques. The next step is to use the breath to clear your mind. Sit comfortably in a chair with your back straight and your feet flat on the floor. Breathe naturally from your belly in and out through your nose. Focus on gradually slowing your breathing and focusing on the temperature of your breath as it passes in and out of your nose. This allows the mind to relax and be clear. You should not think about anything specifically, simply attend to the sensation of your breath as it moves in and out of your nose. You should try to do this for five minutes, three to four times per day.

The next step in using the breath to develop mental and spiritual wellness is to develop focus and discipline. After you’ve done the mind clearing breathing for about five minutes transition into counting the lengths of your inhale and exhale. Begin to inhale on a count of five and exhale on a count of 10. As you inhale count in your mind 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and as you exhale count to 10. As you become more comfortable with this exercise you can change the count to anything you desire as long as the exhale is twice the inhale. Your goal should be to inhale on a count of 10 and exhale on a count of 20 thus you’re taking two breaths every minute. You should try to do this for 10 minutes in addition to the five minutes of mind clearing breathing.

This type of very deep, slow breathing facilitates mental discipline and focus, while at the same time allowing your mind to relax and focus on nothing. It also helps one become aware. You become aware of your surroundings, you become more in tune with your emotions, and leads to a strengthening of your spirit. When you breathe this deeply and slowly your perception of the world around you changes and you see events and objects more realistically leading to a decrease in anxiety and depression combined with an increased awareness of the beauty of the world around you. This exercise can be done either with the eyes open or closed. If you close your eyes you become more aware of yourself; your thoughts and emotions. You develop a more rational and realistic view of your thinking and feeling and are able to control your thoughts and emotions with more focus and discipline, while at the same time letting them go and relaxing.

The final technique leading to a strengthening of one’s spirit and an even more in-depth awareness of one’s self and one’s connection to the world around them, is a simple modification of the previous technique. After about 10 minutes of counting your inhalations and exhalations, you should then add a breath hold. This should be the same amount of time as your inhalation. For example, you would now be inhaling on a count of five, holding your breath for a count of five, and exhaling for a count of 10, yielding a total breath time of twenty. This means you’ll be breathing three times per minute. We add the hold as a way to solidify the connection between our spirit and the joy of living. When we hold our breath we are not living because we must breath to live. By holding the breath this teaches us on a spiritual level to take joy in the abundance of life and we are empowered by the fact that we can have power over death. This final technique should be practiced for five minutes in addition to the above described techniques.

In summary, there are a number of breathing techniques that will facilitate emotional and spiritual wellness. They should be practiced every day, two to four times per day. To increase the efficacy of these techniques make sure your back is straight and that you are sitting comfortably in a quiet, not to brightly lit setting.

If you practice diligently, you’ll find your mind will be clearer, your anxiety will be less, you’ll be less depressed, you’ll have more energy, and you’ll find more joy in the process of living life day-to-day. You’ll develop the ability to live life in the moment and you’ll have a greater awareness of both your strengths and weaknesses and be more accepting of both. You’ll become the “you” you’re supposed to be.

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