Everybody does it – 24 hours a day – no big deal.
YES, big deal!
Breathing is essential to life. This is common knowledge. You can survive (only survive, not live) for almost 2 months without food, something like 7-10 days without water, but the brain tissue starts dying 3 minutes after oxygen supply has been interrupted. So, breathing is required for survival and everybody does it throughout life, without any interruption. What can be so special about that?
Special is, that ALL healthy babies do it right, but only VERY FEW adults seem to capable of maintaining this skill. If you don’t think that this applies to you, well give it a (simple) try.
Go some place where you (and some noise) won’t bother ordinary people (who might otherwise call the police and try to commit you to a lunatic hospital) and scream. Yes, that’s right: scream. With all the power you have and as long as you can do it. Most people I know will be very lucky, if they can keep screaming at the top of their voices for 10-15 minutes. After that your voice will start “fading”, because you get hoarse and later you may not be able to talk properly for days.
THAT would be “normal” for most educated, civilized people.
My eldest son, when he was about 6 months old, once managed to scream for a full 5 hours – with no apparent trouble. Neither during the screaming nor afterwards. Why? Because he was breathing correctly (which the mother did not like at all at the time!)
Correct breathing would be the so-called abdominal breathing. Deep and slow, having your belly expand and retract. Textbooks on physiology give the normal respiratory rate (the number of inhalation and exhalation per minute) as 12-15 cycles, meaning a cycle of inhalation and exhalation takes 4-5 seconds.
Personally I believe that is too fast.
Too fast, excessive breathing may lead to “hyperventilation syndrome”, a condition were the victim may drop to the ground with uncontrollable spasms – like an epileptic. But these victims don’t have any brain lesions, they simply exhale too much carbon dioxide. This happens frequently in young girls that keep screaming during a rock concert.
I advise my patients to attempt achieving a respiratory of 10, meaning 6 seconds per cycle. That may be far longer than you expect, when you try doing that while watching a clock.
The deep breathing both provides you with more air than you would obtain during fast and shallow breathing and it reduces the amount of carbon dioxide you are venting into the air. That in turn raises the concentration of CO2 dissolved in the blood. And THAT has about the same effect as a mild tranquilizer! Here is reason why most meditating people appear to be so cool.
So, if you are upset, anxious, cannot sleep etc. – try to slow your breathing as far as possible.
Naturally, according to oriental thoughts correct breathing also provides your body with energy and power. The power that allows karate specialists to smash bricks and a tea master to prepare a cup of delicious tea.
But this is something, I will write about next time.