The Power of Deliberate Breathing

The Power of Deliberate Breathing

breathingblog

Today many people around the world speak of stress being an expected part of daily life. We all are familiar with work stress, deadlines, financial stress, relationship stress and many other stressors in our daily lives. Biologically, our bodies are prepared for stress. We have heard of the state of being called “flight or fight” often described as a situation in which we face something extreme and somehow gather strength and speed. This reaction is known as the stress response. Your body is designed to do it automatically when it perceives danger and is preparing to confront or avoid it.

The stress response is an incredible gift, that definitely reminds us of the incredible brilliance in the design of the human body. The fact is, the stress response is not something that we are supposed to encounter on a daily basis. Our bodies were not designed for that type of living. Trouble begins when this response is provoked every day. The results we see when it is a daily occurrence are high blood pressure, a suppressed immune system, anxiety and depression.

Being that so many people now acknowledge they do experience high levels of stress, or any level of stress every day, it is now truly a necessity to learn techniques to counteract that stress and help our bodies help us. One way to do that is to learn techniques that create a relaxation response. The relaxation response is a state that can be elicited through many activities including yoga, meditation, and deep breathing techniques.

Benefits of Deep Breathing

According to Harvard Health deep breathing goes by names such as diaphragmatic breathing, abdominal breathing, belly breathing, and paced respiration. When you are taking deep breaths you can feel the air coming in through your nose and fully filling your lungs and your lower belly rising.

Most of us do not take deep breaths. As we grow older, our environment is more fast paced, we often take shorter, quicker breaths all day. In addition in todays culture body image is important to many. As a result people tend to hold in their stomachs and create a flat or muscular stomach area. By the time we are teenagers moving into our twenties we are so used to more shallow breathing, we begin to believe that when our chest rising we have taken a good healthy breath.

When you take a breath that only makes your chest rise you are compromising your immune system. You begin to increase tension and anxiety. In addition shallow breathing limits the diaphragms range of motion. Your lungs lose the benefit of expanding and stretching and your cells lose the oxygen levels that help them maintain optimal health.

There are many relaxation and breathing exercises that can facilitate your body having a relaxation response. One of the techniques we use is called Deliberate Breathing.

Deliberate Breathing has an incredible impact on your immune system, and your mental and physical health overall. Studies have shown some of the benefits are; reduced anxiety and depression, stabilized blood pressure, increased energy levels and decreased feelings of stress and overwhelm.

Two Easy Steps for Deliberate Breathing

Focusing on breathing helps you concentrate and aids in decreasing distracting thoughts and pain among many other benefits.

Step 1– Take a deep breath in through your nose, and when you think you have taken in enough, take in some more. You should feel your lungs expand and see your lower stomach rising. Count from 1-5 as you take the in the deep breath of air.

Step 2– Breathe out through your mouth, slowly and deliberately.  As you are breathing out count down from 7-1.

In order to make this helpful for you and your mental and physical well-being you need to do this deliberately for a length of time. You can go take a five minute break during your day and do Deliberate Breathing. You may want to begin a meditation or yoga routine both will have some type of breathing process involved in the practice, often varying based on the instructors training. If you are going to   choose to do Deliberate Breathing create a routine that allows you to it for at least 30 minutes a day, it does not have to be consecutive time. The key here is focusing on your breath and counting which gives you some stress free time and your body more of the oxygen it requires to reach optimal health.

 


References

Havard Medical School. Harvard Health Publications. January 2015

 

5 Ways Meditation Can Help You

 

5 Ways Meditation Can Help You

5 Ways Meditation Can Help You

During the last few years many people reach out and ask me  about meditation. Meditation is a practice that once was perceived as being for those who are spiritual. Today more people are becoming aware of the benefits. Now that scientific studies have documented benefits in health, increased attention, decreased depression and anxiety and over all positive shift in emotional well being, it seems many people are exploring and loving meditation.

Today, even though scientific research is somewhat still new in the area of meditation, there is a bit of neuroscience research on the topic. “There is evidence that shows meditation, specifically mindfulness meditation might cause neuroplastic changes in the structure and the function of the brain in regions involved in regulation, attention and self-awareness.” Yi- Yuan Tang, Holzel and Posner.

Throughout the last decade studies have involved neuroimaging of the brain. Over 20 studies have been done by different people. Thus far the studies consistently support that at least eight brain regions are consistently altered in the images from people who meditate consistently. The areas are responsible for processing, abstract information, tactile information such as touch, pain and body awareness, memory, emotional responses, attention, and self-control. There are other areas that reap benefits as well, however the terms and information related to those areas are more biological and scientific. The focus here are the benefits in the areas many people often seek assistance with such as attention.

Today my clients share benefits they notice in their own lives that they personally believe is a direct result of beginning each day with meditation. There are many wonderful results I hear and see daily when I work with my clients. Five of the results many of my clients share consistently are listed below.

1- Improved Concentration
2- Increased Attention
3- Increased Academic Success, or Learning Rate
4- Improved Memory Functioning
5- Improved Mood and Self Image
Meditation is a practice you can do anywhere. Inside, outside, alone, with others. This year I have more and more children and families in meditation groups and classes. In the last five years I have many men and many children in meditation programs. Regardless of age, or need, or gender, or money, it is one technique that helps everyone who chooses it consistently.

This month we will explore different types of meditation including, silent meditation and guided meditation. If you would like to learn more about meditation feel free to look at our 21 Days of Meditation program  called Tapping In.

Breaking Bad Habits

Breaking Bad Habits

Breaking Bad Habits

Habits are behaviors or thoughts that we do repeatedly without even thinking about it. The science behind the creation of habits is quite simple. Our brains are incredible. They can learn, process information, give us information. On a day a day to day basis however, our brain to some extent does not get involved in what we are doing. It does get involved when we are learning a new behavior or thought. After that the behaviors, skills, and thoughts become stored in a way that may be viewed as being  similar to a pipe laid underground. It becomes part of a regular circuit for tasks and thoughts that occur repeatedly. After you truly have practiced and know a behavior or thought it becomes part of this automated system.
Each of us have hundreds of behaviors and thoughts that we use in our daily life. Many of these are actual neutral or beneficial behaviors. We shower, get dressed, we wash our hands and brush our teeth. Some develop routines for habits that may include exercise, meditation or sitting in the same seat all the time, or eating at the same place for dinner regularly.

This information is quite helpful to us because when you understand how habits are formed you can also learn how to break them, and how create new ones. Habits are created by repeating  behaviors or thoughts over time. They are sometimes triggered by a situation. It is very important to note we are not paying attention or consciousiously aware as we doing them.
3 Tips to Successfully Break A Habit
Thanks to science we realize we can create new habits that over time become the new automatic pilot for our actions each day.

Pay Attention. The first step is to notice when you are choosing the habit. Catch yourself and write down the time, the possible trigger, and what you were doing before you chose the action you want to change. This requires us to be willing to be aware and more present throughout the day.
Identify a preferred action. Many of our habits are easier to break if we switch our behavior. We are so entrained to take action in specific situations. If we choose a different action that replaces the old one, this can be quite helpful. For example, instead of grabbing the can of soda when you are at lunch with friends, you stop yourself and grab water. You still are choosing an action. Now you are choosing one that is more nurturing for you.
Repetition. Research shows it takes 21 days to create a habit. Once 21 days passes it becomes a new circuit, a new pipe that has now been placed. This allows you to begin to choose the preferred action without much thought or effort after you have practiced the action consistently for approximately three weeks.

There are many reasons someone may desire to create a habit, or end a habit. I often provide people with new mantras to assist them during the process. This helps them change their self talk to words that support them during the process. It is also important to remember to be kind to you if you have a moment, or a day that you did not feel successful. The important piece is you are aware, you are choosing more for yourself, and just give yourself credit for what you have done, and keep moving forward towards your goal. You can do this.

Meditation for Children

Meditation for ChildrenMeditation helps children improve focus, feel positive, increase success in academics and have healthier relationships

Everyone loves the idea of living a stress free life. When I refer to everyone, this includes children. Teaching children meditation is something that is becoming wide spread across the country. Children show improvement in concentration, confidence, problem solving and coping skills.

Today children have a tremendous amount of information. The news is graphic. Schools all over the world report a rise in bullying in schools and cyber bullying online. Statistics collected by National Association of School Psychologist and various mental health agencies all indicate as children appear to be experiencing more stress and anxiety in their daily lives, mental health services and programs are experiencing severe cuts and decreases in their resources and ability to serve as many children and families.

Meditation is a tool that benefits both you and your children. There is no financial cost to learning it or teaching it to your children. You only have to decide it is something you would like to do and then set a time that you do it each day.

Research has shown that mediation is a technique that has tremendous benefits for everyone, when they do it everyday. There are long lists of documented benefits are in several areas. Below are just a few that are helpful for many people.

Emotional Well-Being

1- Decreases anxiety and impulsivity

2- Improves self-esteem and confidence

3- Decreases risk behaviors such as trying drugs and alcohol

4- Increases positive social connections

5- Improves mood and overall intellectual functioning

Biology and Brain Function

1- Increases memory retention and recall

2- Improves overall cognition

3- Improves Creative Thinking

4- Improves attention and focus

5- Lowers blood pressure

6- Helps reduce anxiety, depression and pain

The impact of having mediation in your daily routine is a positive one in mind, body and soul. Five years ago I began teaching meditation to children with attention difficulties as well as children with anxiety. The results are incredible. This year I began doing mediation with families. This too has been an incredible experience.
Teaching children meditation is easy. Children try something and if it feels good, they know it and choose it again. However, meditating with children each day requires a bit of a different approach than you may do in your meditation as an adult. Children are always in this beautiful state of wonder. They are curious and they learn quickly. If you would like to introduce your children to meditation you are going to have to use some techniques to help keep it interesting and fun.

Three Tips for Teaching Children

TIME. Adults who practice daily meditation tend to have a routine that is approximately 20 minutes in length. Children should have a routine that  lasts in minutes the same amount of time as their age. If they are five years old, the meditation may be only five minutes long.

FUN. There is no need to define or describe what meditation is or feels like to a little one. Invite them into a game. Lets sit with our eyes closed and count our breaths in and out. Ask them to listen for the timer on the cell phone to go off. When it goes off they can take the phone and play a game. The activity is quick, the counting allows them to be present. You cannot allow external stimuli in if your eyes are closed and you are counting. The alarm ringing is fun and the technology time is usually rewarding.

At a young age the meditation is helping with stillness and focus. As children grow you can add deliberate breathing, and reflect how they feel while they are still during the time you are meditating together. Children quickly recognize they feel better. They will even begin to choose to do it when they feel they need to calm down or focus.

FOCUS. A large part of mediation is focus. Focus and be present. This means stopping the random thoughts that take over in your mind and distract you. To help children learn this you can provide them a point of focus. They can count the tick-tock of a clock and you both can see when the time is up if you get the same number. You start the clock and set an alarm. When the alarm buzzes you state how many tick- tocks you heard. Listening for a sound and counting is one way to train the mind to focus, and force the mind to be present, and be still. It is a wonderful, fun way to begin learning meditation.
If you would like to learn more about mediation you can look at Tapping In our 21 Day Mediation Program. The program is deigned for beginners and experts. You can connect with like minded people and see progress towards your current life goals.

Overcoming Anxiety

Overcoming Anxiety

The calm you are asking for is within.

Today many people use the term anxious and express feelings of anxiety. The feeling of being anxious is one we all feel at some point in our life. If anxiety is something you experience on occasion, it is often considered to be normal. In this day and age people have begun to add anxiety and stress as frequent experiences they tolerate each day. Deadlines, bills, hectic schedules and long to do lists are all common in everyday life. However, anxiety also is a feeling that can overwhelm you, for many anxiety is something that can get in the way of everyday “normal” functioning. Many do not know that anxiety creates stress on your body and impacts your immune system too.

When we feel anxious our brain triggers the release of stress hormones. You may have heard the term “fight or flight”. When we feel anxiety our body interprets this feeling as stress and potential danger. We are biologically, chemically designed to release a hormone under this condition that has us either fight or run for cover. The more often this chemical is released into your system, the more it has an impact on your immune system, energy, and your ability to think clearly or think at all. For those of you who have a diagnosis of anxiety, you can see and feel all of this in your life and body.

The first step to taking control of your anxiety is to know the feeling of being anxious is normal under certain circumstances. Begin to take note of how often you are feeling anxious and under what conditions.

Temporary feelings of anxiety in life situations are normal and your body can manage it. This may be doing major life events such as planning a wedding, moving, taking an exam, changing a job. When anyone of those temporary life events lasts a longer period of time your body and mind will begin to feel run down.

Some people who have anxiety daily may have it a low level. It may be fleeting throughout the day, with some subtle triggers. Although you feel it, it feels manageable and your day can still remain on track. Often at low levels people begin to accept and tolerate this as a daily part of their life.

For some an event or stressor may last a long period of time, re-occur daily at work or in relationship or in a specific type of event. When this occurs consistently overtime anxiety can lead to other difficulties such as depression or new fears and difficulties. Some who struggle with anxiety daily over a length of time may develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, also known as PTSD.

Steps to Help Manage Anxiety

  1. Acknowledgement. Admit to yourself you have anxiety. Once you acknowledge that this is something that is beyond normal and occasional you can begin to move forward.
  2. Tell Someone. Tell one or two people you trust what you are experiencing. Let them know you are sharing this information with them as one of your first steps in taking control of your anxiety.
  3. Allow. Our first reaction when we feel something like anxiety is to resist it and try to pretend it is not there. What we resist grows stronger. Acknowledge that you are experiencing anxiety, and to the best you can to work through the anxious moment.
  4. Techniques. Seek out assistance so you can learn techniques to help you decrease and eventually prevent your anxiety. Meditation and deliberate breathing are two I teach to my clients. There are many techniques out there find three to five that work for you.
  5. Nutrition. People who experience anxiety should look at their diet. Eliminate foods with caffeine and sugar. They both increase anxiety and stress for your mind and body.
  6. Time. Make time everyday for yourself. You can begin with 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes at night. Choose to use that time to help you release your stress and anxiety. You may exercise, journal, go outside and walk in nature. Whatever feels like a release for you.
  7. Sleep. Many people with anxiety have difficulty sleeping. Some find it easier to sleep somewhere in between morning and bedtime for an hour and then continue their day. Sleep is a time that does allow you to release stress and heal your cells and mind. Meditation and deep deliberate breathing can also help with falling asleep. You may want to ask your doctor about natural sleep aid at first if you cannot fall asleep. You want to begin a healthy sleep routine. The rest will also help to decrease the stress and anxiety.

There are many additional tools and techniques to assist you in overcoming your anxiety. You will find the ones that work for you once you decide it is time for you to take control. What you will do over time is create new habits that support you and nurture you. I often create audios for my clients with daily mantras or meditations or both. Words that support them in their knowing and believing, everything is working out for them. These techniques have helped hundreds of people overcome anxiety, and you can do it too.

Join Donna in her Deliberate Creation or her Mediation Program. These programs are designed for transformation, connecting with like minded people and moving you forward in your life.

Are You Willing to Be Selfish? A Different Perspective on Priorities.

Where are you on your list of priorities?Growing up for many of us, we were taught to put others first. My whole life I watched heard people say, “Ill do this after my daughter finishes school”,  or I’ll go to the doctor as soon as I have a second to stop”.  Honestly, I can go on with the long list of excuses we all have used to put off our own needs. We certainly do desire to help and contribute to others. We also do not want to seem selfish. Being selfish after all is really bad, isn’t it?

I spent many years learning in one capacity or anther how to care for others. Years of psychology course work, education classes, healing courses, observing other people in the world around me. I personally love being a contribution to others. It makes me feel good to do it. However, as I observe those around me, and as I experienced in my own life, when you are always giving, eventually the cup runs out.

I listen to clients who are struggling with health or relationship issues and I almost always hear feelings of resentment, frustration, and exhaustion.  They express feeling as though they are doing for others and never receiving anything in return. This feeling is often coupled with feelings of guilt for even wanting something in return. They certainly did not choose to contribute with the thought of wanting something in return. After time passes though, they seem to feel as though someone should at least offer to contribute to them in some way. We  learn not to block off our own receiving. We also learn having needs and desires are a bad personality traits.

Being of service and being a contribution to others does not mean you must neglect yourself, physically, emotionally or financially. In fact, if you would like to do it successfully, more easily and even joyfully, you must make your needs a priority. If it sounds as though I am promoting being selfish well, I actually am. At first those I work with seem surprised when I say I am promoting them being selfish.  They immediately state that in their observation I am always working, giving, contributing often for more hours than many people.  I learned the hard way, in order to do what I do every day, I must start  with me and each and every day.  I have  non-negotiable time in my schedule for me to care for me. This could be morning mediattion, which I do daily, a walk in nature, deliberate breathing, drawing, sketching, a hike in the woods or something that is nurturing, fun and feels good.

As I watch my clients literally force themselves to begin and end their days being nurturing to themselves, I can see they are resistant and uncomfortable. This begins to shift anywhere from 3-7 days of consistently taking time for themselves each day. Within 30 daysI begin to hear and see some very different resposnse from my clients and their family members. They are more joy filled, more energetic, more focused, more clear, and getting more done. My clients are busy people, so when I tell them making time for them every day, no exception,  will actualy create more time for them in their life, there is a strong response followed by a clear doubt that I must not know how busy they really are each day. I mean you know your life, can you imagine squeezing anything else into your day? Absolutely not, not even for three minutes.

One of the amazing things about caring for you and meeting your needs is, it will be the first time in your life you can actually feel like you are giving your all in each area of your life. If you are not taking care of you, you are sitting there often feeling out of balance. You may be feeling great about what you are giving to work, but feeling like you ae lacking in the time you spend with your family. You may feel you are doing well with your family time and work time, however there is no time for friends or fun. Something just always feels like it is getting the short end of the stick. There is a very simple explanation for that feeling. It is not possible to give your all to everything, if you are not even able to give anything to you.

Over the last 20 years I have worked with people all over the world. I have worked with people who own very successful companies. The businesses that have created the most encourage nurturing yourself, in one way or another. It may be flex scheduling, or breaks or planned fun events or including families in alot of projects and company functions. These companies grow at exponential rates. It is not just obvious in business either. Yes, all my clients make more money as a result of including themselves in their list of daily priorities, most importantly, they are happier in every area of their life.

As my clients include themselves on their own priority list consistelntly for 30 days, they notice their lives, relationships, businesses changing and initially that is not the focus. I even have had family members indicate they notice such a difference that now they jump in to help and insist the person take the time for themselves. They love spending time with this person now. Everything feels different to everyone in a relationship with a person who takes care of themselves. It benefits everyone if you are feeling good, energetic and appreciated. This is a true win-win choice

Would you be willing to include you in your own life plan? When I ask the question that way it feels different doens’t it? Most of you may initially think you are in your plan. Look at your daily schedule, what is on your schedule each day? Look at your three and five year plan, do you see, a house, a vaca tion, a retirement fund?  Now write down how you fit in those plans. You own a home, that is wonderful. You have created possibly more work for you and more of a reason why you have less time for you in your life.  Where are you taking care of you each day? Where are you modeling nurturing and kindness to yourself for those around you? You do know when you choose it you are also opening up for others to contribute to you too. What you may not realize is, it makes them feel good to be a contribution to you.

One of the many amazing teachers I studied in my life was Carl Jung. He wrote about how we often grow up with a set of beliefs that at least once in our life we begin to question. We then often decide the beliefs may have served us prior to this moment, they do not serve us any longer. Priorities is one of those areas we all eventually shift.  Your priorities are driven by those beliefs. Both men and women change drastically when they begin the time in their lives around  mid life and later.

If you are reading this now, you are lucky.  You do not have to wait to shift. You can make yourself a priority now and reap the benefits in your life as soon as today. In choosing that, you also demonstrate to your children, your family, and all of those people who observe and learn from you the power you gain in this choice. It can begin with something as simple as thinking of five things that feel like fun and joy to you, and then  do one of those things every day for 15 minutes no matter what comes up. Do it first thing in the morning before you start anything.

If you are looking to shift anything in your life, boost your business, have more passion in your relationship, create a nurturing relationship, be more available and energetic and happy in whatever you are doing, it is time to look at your priorities. Start today and add you to your calendar. I assure you my friends, it is a game changer.