We start with physical/mechanical and graduate towards energetic and then to the more abstractions of ideas. At any point along the way we can shift to a major change of more optimistic attitude and expanded breath; a paradigm shift.
Learning to breathe more from the belly can have a calming effect on the entire nervous system. It is a definite step in the right direction. But it is still not an optimal breath.
For some, the belly breath is an invitation towards the illusion of breathing deeper. Just because the breath is in the belly doesn’t mean the diaphragm is traveling up into the chest to squeeze the lungs to remove the CO2.
Drawing downward instead of outward in a “phantom” diaphragmatic breath.
I’ve called it the “phantom” as I’ve observed some (not all) emphysema patients breathing with huge belly protrusion on the in-breath. Also, people with big bellies and no energy. Like they were taking in enormous amounts of air because their stomach was sticking out so much. They don’t take in more air because the diaphragm probably isn’t rising enough to suck any in. It just protrudes.
The key to breathing is the exhale, not the inhale, expanding the rib cage, and causing the diaphragm to rise higher. You need to empty the cup before you fill it. If the diaphragm does not rise higher then it did before, and the ribs do not expand to allow the lungs to expand, you can have little or no increase in breathing volume.
A sample exercise for relaxing and calming.
Another exercise for relaxing and calming “During the Better Breathing Exercise #1 session with Mike, I received more release of tension and a stronger sense of inner peace than I ever dreamed possible.” – Ellen H., retired former manager of a California State Agency.
The above testimonial refers to a recorded guided exercise which is a quite different exercise than the ones previously referred to.
Assuming reasonably good health and simply needing a way to calm the mind and body, it is wonderfully relaxing and peace producing and has even eliminated sleep apnea symptoms. It is also good for the chronically over stimulated.
There is an extreme example of so called inner peace. I call it “super megacalm”. Some long term meditators seem to always be deeply calm and never get excited. I know it could be a lot worse but to some observers, it can seem that nothing emotional ever affects them and too often emotion in others is seen by the meditators as something to back away from;
As if passion were always a negative or threatening trait. Your passions can guide and nurture you. They do not have to dominate or seduce you. An art form of life is maintaining this balance. We have our emotions without our emotions having us.
UNDERSTANDING INTERNAL PEACE
I facilitated a breathing/stress management workshop] at a local county jail: Breathing and my Himalayan "singing bowls" (see Peace Within). Towards the end of the workshop an inmate told me that he felt very much at peace, it was foreign to him, and he wanted to understand what the significance of how he felt.
I told him that if he felt at peace he would naturally choose activities and strategies that stemmed from or supported that experience. If he felt anxiety and or agitation he might well choose activities and responses that more resembled anger and defensiveness, and that the choice was his. He thanked me, and gently smiling, quietly sat down.