The Power of Your Breath
The other day I had to deliver a talk at a major event. On the morning of the event I woke up feeling terrified. Public speaking still scares me, despite the fact that I do it so often! I do it because I know how valuable it is as a platform for sharing my message and making a difference.
That morning the fear was particularly potent! As I lay in bed I was acutely aware of my heart pounding and the thousand knots in my stomach.
Then I remembered to breathe. Or more to the point, I remembered how to use breathing to shift how I was feeling. So I got to work.
Slowly I started paying attention to my breath. I took slow, deep breaths, ensuring that the duration of the in-breath was the same as the out-breath. I accompanied the breathing with a body scan – moving my attention slowly from one part of my body to the next, starting from the top of my head and ending at the soles of my feet.
The whole exercise took around 20 minutes and by the end of it I felt not only relaxed, I also felt energised. The knots in my stomach were gone and I felt an expansiveness in my chest.
In this state I started doing a mental rehearsal of my talk, and when it was all done I felt confident that it would go off without a hitch later that day. The energised state continued into the actual event; the talk did indeed go well. Some members of the audience even remarked afterwards on how relaxed I looked!
We weren’t taught any of this stuff at medical school. Instead we were taught that the human body is merely a collection of organs encased in a bony skeleton, which malfunctions from time to time and is repaired through medication or surgery.
I’ve since come to realise that our bodies have an inherent capacity to heal and they have an in-built intelligence which can guide our day-to-day actions and decisions. Our bodies can be powerful allies in our personal development, provided we are willing to work with them instead of constantly trying to “fix” them.
Your breath is a great way to get to know the power of your body. So do yourself a favour: read up on Pranayama, Coherent Breathing, Bellows Breathing and other breathing techniques, and start tapping into the power of your breath!