Breathing is an ally in the healing process of our bodies. It involves the exchange of matter and energy. With each breath we take exchange carbon dioxide molecules from inside our bodies with oxygen from the surrounding air; an exchange of waste material when we breathe out with renewal when we breath in.
Breathing is extremely important in the support of our daily lives, and also plays an important role in meditation and healing. I use breathing techniques to focus, to calm down when I get anxious, to maintain stamina when I exercise, and frankly, it has helped me in a myriad of other ways. Breathing technique is at the core of yoga and meditation, and ultimately becomes the path for practicing mindfulness and wellness as a way of living. An example is using breathing to avert anger or to calm oneself down. This can be very useful, especially if you tend to have an explosive temper. Another example is using breathing to maintain stamina, like when you are exercising, walking, running, swimming, or any other physical action that burns energy.
While living in Los Angeles, the driving daily in traffic gridlock to and from work caused me so much anxiety. I would get extremely irritated when the freeway traffic would practically sitting in one place for long periods at a time while driving home from work. One evening, I started feeling very impatient and agitated as I sat in the usual traffic; I felt a knot in my chest, which moved slowly up towards my throat and just remained there. I wanted to scream, but realized that would not help the situation. Then, I remembered that I had read a book on Hatha Yoga, which stated that breathing is effective in alleviating any kind of anxiety experience.
I straightened my shoulders and sat upright in my car seat and started breathing - in though my nose...mentally counting, "one, two, three, four," then I breathe out through my mouth slowly, counting, "five, six, seven, eight." I did this repetitively, and before long, I realized that the feeling of anxiety had dissipated and the lump was gone from my throat. Although I was still sitting on the 110 Freeway, inching my way home in bumper to bumper traffic, I felt a sense of peace. Since this type of condition on the freeway was common during rush hour in LA, I started using breathing to avoid becoming stressed from the traffic. Soon after that, I realized that it was no longer a problem or a stressful ordeal when I got caught in rush hour traffic. I also realized that breathing really works to bring a sense of peace in any type of stressful situation, and incorporated it into my life as a coping mechanism.