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Part 3: Bringing reduced and diaphragmatic breathing together.

 

When patients ask me what is more important, I say that reduced breathing is primary and tummy breathing is secondary. At the same time, the two work together as it is a lot easier to reduce breathing volume by changing the breathing pattern to diaphragmatic. To bring the two together:

• Sit up straight, as described above.

• Place one hand on your chest and one hand on your tummy.

• Bring attention to your breathing.

• As you breathe in, gently guide your tummy out. Use your mind and awareness to keep your chest movements to a minimum

• As you breathe out, gently pull your tummy in, again keeping your chest movements quiet.

• As you breathe with your tummy, concentrate on making your in-breath smaller.

• With each breath, take in less air than what you would like to. Make the in-breath smaller or shorter. Feel the shorter breath with your hands or imagine your chest as a large glass. Only breathe in enough air to fill the glass three quarters full.

• Reduce your volume of breathing by encouraging your entire body to relax. As you feel your body relaxing, your breathing will reduce automatically.

• Breathe out with a relaxed exhalation. While breathing out, allow the natural elasticity of your lungs and diaphragm to play their role in the exhalation. Imagine a balloon deflating by its own accord.

• As your in-breath is smaller and your out-breath is relaxed, visible movements will slow down. Aim to quieten your breathing. A typical session may involve reducing your breathing movement by 30% to 40%.

• If your stomach gets tense, jerky or “hard,” then the degree of air shortage is too great. Instead, relax for a moment. When your tension dissolves, return to gentle reduced breathing.

• You must feel a need for air that is tolerable. Maintain this tolerable “air hunger” for three to five minutes at a time.

 

I am often asked whether a person is doing the exercise properly. The answer to this is:

 

“You are reducing your  breathing when you feel a distinct but non-stressful need for air.”

 

Sometimes, to reinforce this point, I say:

 

“Unless you feel a tolerable need for air, you will not  make progress.”

 

Your need for air should be distinct but not stressful. If your need for air is not distinct, then reduce your movements further. If your need for air is too stressful, then breathe a little more and allow your body to relax. Now you have mastered relaxing your diaphragm combined with a reduced need for air. Every breath that you take throughout the day should be diaphragmatic and quiet. Remember, this is how we breathed when we were healthy young babies. Our lips were together, and our little tummies moved in and out with each breath. Healthy breathing is all about going back to basics.

 

 

Anger, anxiety and stress originate from chaotic and fast breathing. In Japan, children are taught from a young age to diaphragmatically breathe and keep their breathing calm when they get angry. When you are under stress, immediately pay attention to your breathing. If you keep your breathing level, calm and quiet, stress will not manifest. Stress and anger require heavy and irregular breathing. To observe this, watch your breathing the next time you get stressed or are angry.

 

Recap:

– Small breath in. Relaxed breath out. Small breath in. Relaxed breath out. Small breath in. Relaxed breath out.

– A small breath simply means taking a smaller or shorter breath than what you would normally take. A relaxed breath out tends to be slow.

 

Don’t worry too much about your rate. Ideally, it should not increase but it may when your CP is less than 20 seconds. If your rate increases, calm and slow your breathing. As your CP increases, your rate will naturally decrease.

 

Change your breathing from this:

 

  

Noisy, loud, big, erratic, irregular, effortful, tense, inefficient breathing.

 

To this:

 

 

 Quiet, silent, small, level, regular, effortless, relaxed, efficient breathing.

 

A formal routine for correcting your  breathing (easy and detailed approaches):

 

• Measure your pulse.

• Take your Control Pause.

• Reduced your breathing for four minutes.

• Wait two minutes and take your Control Pause.

• Reduced your breathing for four minutes.

• Wait two minutes and take your Control Pause.

• Reduced your breathing for four minutes.

• Wait two minutes and take your Control Pause

• Reduced your breathing for four minutes.

• Wait two minutes and take your Control Pause.

• Measure your pulse.

 

Your CP taken at the end of the four sets should be about 25% higher than the one taken at the start. Your pulse as measured at the end of the 20 minutes should be a couple of beats per minute lower than your pulse measured at the start. If your pulse is higher, then rest for a few minutes and re-measure. If it is still high, then this is a sign that you were stressed during the exercise. The next time you practice, ensure that you experience a shortage of air but place more emphasis on relaxation.

 

The normal resting pulse for an adult should be between 60 and 80 beats per minute. A child’s pulse will be higher than this and will decrease as he or she gets older. Twenty to thirty minutes first thing in the morning is an excellent way to reverse the heavy breathing from the night before. Repeat the same process during the day and as the last thing that you do at night. Reducing your breathing before going to bed will ensure a calm and restful sleep and will give you very good energy levels when you wake in the morning.

 

While doing your  four  sets of four  minutes, experience an air shortage for the entire four  minutes. Reducing your  breathing for the first 30 seconds and then breathing heavily for the remaining three and a half minutes is not  useful. You might find it difficult to set aside twenty minutes three times a day; do your best. Know that every minute of reduced breathing is also a minute that you give your mind to rest from its normal activity. Your mind also needs a rest from its incessant and repetitive thoughts. Watching, feeling and reducing your breath creates quiet time for your mind.

 

 

Informal routine for correcting your  breathing volume (easy and detailed approach):

If you feel that you can practise reduced breathing as part of your daily life, then reduce your breathing and create an air shortage for blocks of about four or five minutes several times throughout the day.

 

Reducing your breathing for 90 minutes throughout the day helps restore your breathing volume to normal levels. This is easier done than you may think. If you like walking, then breathe through your nose and reduce your breathing for the entire walk. If you like to meditate, reduce your breathing during meditation. If you like to drive, reduce your breathing while driving. If you watch TV or read, reduce your breathing while doing these activities. If you work on a computer, reduce your breathing. Placing your finger under your nose to reduce your breathing is not a requirement. All that is required is that you relax your chest and diaphragm and breathe less than what you normally do.

 

You are breathing less when you feel a tolerable air shortage. Sustain this feeling for blocks of four minutes several times throughout the day (informally) or during four  four-minute blocks (formally). If your tummy gets tense or jumpy, then your air shortage is too great and can create tension. If this happens, distract yourself for a few seconds and return to gentle reduced breathing. With practice, your breathing will become calm, quiet and still. Your other option is to continue with the heavy breathing, have all of your attention in your head and deprive your brain of oxygen, resulting in increased thought activity.

Reduced breathing serves two purposes: the first is to improve oxygenation of the brain and the second is to take attention away from the head and to the body. Both together are powerful tools for reducing thought activity and anxiety.

 

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