Stress is a part of everyday life: work, traffic, children, spouse, weather, health, finances and relationships…. Most often we’re able to get through them fine without letting them ruin our day and lives. But some days those same stresses can become so amplified and great that it becomes too much to handle. What do we do then? Enter fight or flight mode! But what if there was a better way? What if you could simply and calmly just breathe through your stress?!
There are times when stress gets to be too much that it seems the only viable options are either to FIGHT— Lash out at whoever or whatever is causing the stress–Yell, scream, charge, swear, attack… unleash our anger with all our energy! Or take FLIGHT—Withdraw, hide, isolate, cry in sorrow, escape, ignore or numb the pain by whatever means necessary….
I have personally done both many times! Neither one actually feels very good. In the end, I’m left feeling even more exhausted and stressed out than before. After giving in to the fight or flight, not only have I physically exhausted myself from all my yelling, attacking, crying and putting defenses up, but I’ve also created more stress because now I feel bad and guilty for lashing out someone I care about or withdrawing from doing the things that I love and enjoy.
There really is a better way to get through these stressful situations in life–
Yep, we’ve all heard it. “Just breathe and let go!” Sounds simple yet impossible at the same time. HOW does breathing actually help calm a stressful situation and keep us from entering the fight or flight response? WHY would it be better to BREATHE instead?
Recently I’ve had opportunity to apply the calming power of breath in my own life as I have had to deal with some very difficult and stressful decisions and situations that have made me not only want to, but for brief moments have actually lead me to fight and attack like never before and enter flight mode and completely run away and escape from it all. I have been brought to the literal depths of despair in some of these situations which have initially made me fight and then escape even more, and ultimately have left me feeling completely depleted. As easy and possibly even deserving as those fight and flight responses may appear to be, they ultimately do not solve anything and definitely don’t bring peace and calm in the meantime. So even when in those deepest depths crying out in agony wanting it all to end, the only true relief I have found is to JUST BREATHE and LET GO!
But how? We can’t be in control of our breath, especially in a stressful situation, it just happens automatically,
Oh, how we can indeed be in control of our breath and how powerful it is when we do!
“Breathing, according to me, corresponds to taking charge of one’s own life” –Luce Irigaray
In yoga, the Sanskrit word for this is “pranayama” which consists of two words “Prana” meaning fundamental flow of life force, energy, breath or strength and “yama” meaning control. So “pranayama” literally means controlling our life force. And our life force is our breath. It’s what keeps us alive! If we were to stop breathing for very long, we would stop being alive! Breathing keeps us alive but being in control of our breathing keeps us living!
It keeps us living not only physically through all the stress and anguish and pain we may feel but it keeps us living with and able to experience joy and gratitude, peace and calm and greater understanding during it all. It gives us hope and strength to keep living despite all the trauma and trouble we experience. And it’s a lot easier on the body and mind when we’re not all tensed up claws bared ready to attack or turning our backs and hearts in retreat.
Breathing through stressful situations allows us to be fully present in the moment and in complete control of our own life force! I’m not saying it makes all the stressful situations just magically disappear. But it does make it so that we don’t have to get all stressed out, physically, emotionally and spiritually, while going through them. Learning the power of breathing allows us to be calm, collected, strong, and at peace regardless of what is happening around us.
Sound like something you’d like to experience?
Stay tuned. In the next post I’ll share some more specifics of HOW, WHEN, and WHERE you can be in control of your breathing! Until then, JUST BREATHE and Make a COMMENT BELOW!
Tell me why, how, where and what you’ve been able to calmly breathe through or would like to learn to be able to truly and joyfully BREATHE through?