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What do you want to know about breathing? Answered in our newsletter


Hypochondria and Breathing

A primary link to excessive fears of not being well.

Are you or is someone you know or care about called a hypochondriac?

The word itself when broken down means:

·         hypo = below or under

·         chondria = rib cartilage

Aha. "rib cartilage".

Like phobias, many forms of learning disabilities, hyper-vigilance, and excessive worry and anxiety, hypochondria is quite often an expression of UDB - Unbalanced Deep Breathing.

The diaphragm of respiration is attached to the costal/rib cartilages.  The rib cage literally shapes the form and volume of the way we breathe. If you formed a water bottle to the shape of a Valentines day heart, and blew up a balloon inside of the heart shaped bottle, the balloon, (lungs) would take the same shape as the heart shaped bottle.  The only problem with that is that the lungs are supposed to be PEAR shaped (with the stem at the top) see picture at right, not Valentine's day heart shaped.  So what happens when the pear shape is instead more Valentine’s day heart shaped (upside down) as in Unbalanced Deep Breathing, people try to get breath from the top of the lungs and as you can plainly see in the picture below, there really is VERY LITTLE lung volume at the top of the lung.  But they keep trying because by that time the rib cage and diaphragm have been distorted and the breather intuitively feels he or she has no other choice.  One tries to get a deep easy breath and the nerves and muscles won’t co-operate and this makes him or her all the more nervous and trying harder to breathe and that simply makes the whole thing worse. Imaginations go into overreaction.

Again, when people breathe in a too-deep and unbalanced way, primarily and repeatedly with their upper chests or variations of UDB, they over-stimulate the sympathetic nervous system and send it into fight or flight mode, regardless of what is occurring in reality. ANYTHING can set off UDB because it is a dysfunction of the nervous system being driven by chronically and excessively deep, poorly balanced breathing.  I walk into a room and see a snake to my right and jump back only to discover the snake is really an electric cord. This is a normal reaction.  I recover and the next time see a cord and not a snake. The abnormal reaction is that I never learn about electric cords and react to them as a snake most or all the time.  What I need most is to be allowed to stay relaxed deeply and long enough to access other more rationlal neocortical choices.  We rise to an inflated need for action but there really IS NO need for action.  It is all in our mind…….. our bodymind.

The word diaphragm is related to the Greek word for the mind: the diaphragm muscle is controlled by the phrenic nerve, and its Greek root, phren designates the mind as well as the muscle. The Webster dictionary (1991) definition of the word phrenic is:

1 - Of or relating to the diaphragm 2 - Of and relating to the mind. The World Book  Dictionary adds “As distinguished from the soul”

This is one good reason why so many people refer to the breath as the link to the mind and body.  In fact it IS the link, both physically and metaphorically.

The word hypochondriac derives from Greek at a time when ancient physicians didn’t attempt to separate mind and body as we have in modern times. Their powers of observation would include simultaneous registration of breathing and mental processes. Very few doctors do that today. It is however the essence of holism.

Remember, hypochondriacs DO experience REAL fears but the fears are largely a byproduct of poor breathing. 

You can begin to notice potential breathing related trouble by

Checking for signs of tension in each area:

·        HEAD --jaw, tongue, mouth, eyes, forehead, sides of head above ears - pressure/tension/feels great when rubbed, mouth breathing?

·        NECK -- Clears throat a lot, Out of balance?

·        SHOULDERS, BACK, sides. rigid/tense?

·        CHEST -- rigid/tense?

·        Heart beat excessively large?

·        BREATHING -- high, fast, uneven inhale –a series of events instead of one thing, shallow, stops a lot?

·         STOMACH -- tense muscles, bowel upsets, gut discomfort, constipation?

·         HANDS -- cold, clammy?

·         FEET, ARMS, THIGHS -- clenched, achy?

·         THOUGHTS -- fear, anxiety, worry, guilt, resentment, poor attention span?

Signs of effective relaxation:

·         nose breathing, slower and flowing

·         heart rate slower, less noticeable

·         hands and feet warmer and drier

·         head cooler, less pressure

·         muscles and joints looser, move with ease

·         shoulders dropped, relaxed, in a natural position

·         jaw unclenched

·         thinking clearer, better concentration, optimism at last.

·         An overall full-bodied sense of ease and flow

     People who consistently overcompensate in the way they breathe and lose their breathing coordination almost always end up feeling sick and anxious. Physical symptoms are caused by physiological derangements that poor breathing produces.

     Being constantly told – there’s nothing wrong after a check at the doctors  often makes things worse. Its a vicious cycle to be caught up in. Being constantly on the alert causes hyper-vigilance and is often  quite exhausting.

     Additional factors relating breathing mechanics to real life experience can be viewed at http://www.breathing.com/articles/udb.htm

If you’ve been labeled a hypochondriac -- the first step you need to take is have your breathing checked and then adopt a program to develop it.  Take our FREE breathing self tests at www.breathing.com/tests.htm then learn more about quick, easy and painless ways to make your breathing and nervous system more balanced and at ease.  If you’ve already taken the tests a good place to start is  Breathing Improvement program for deepest calm.  Or, schedule a private session with a certified Optimal Breathing Coach.

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The breathing improvement techniques, practices and products outlined in this publication are extremely gentle, and should, if carried out as described, be beneficial
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