I’ll admit- it’s probably annoying sometimes.
If you’re in therapy with me, you probably hear me directing you to breathe at least once per session. Sometimes, I’ll tell you that several times! If you’re wondering why, here’s a rundown.
Breath is regulating
There’s a reason your mom told you to take 10 deep breaths when you were upset as a kid. Slow, deep breathing helps activate your parasympathetic nervous system, moving you into a more relaxed state of mind. Some folks even find that breathing can help them fend off a panic attack.
Breath is mindful
When you’re paying attention to your breathing, you have to be in the here-and-now. You really can’t pay attention to yesterday’s breath or your breath from your high school graduation, it’s just today, right now.
While therapy does talk about the past, the most important thing is working with what’s bothering you in your life right now. By returning attention to the breath we practice letting go of what’s happened and what might happen and attending to the present.
Breath helps direct attention
At any moment, we have so many things we could pay attention to: the weird rattle of the radiator, cars honking out on the street, soreness from yesterday’s workout, what you’re going to have for lunch. In body-oriented therapy, we know that the answers are often found by paying attention to your body. So when we agree to check something out, I might direct you to stay with a sensation by breathing into it. This keeps your focus on the important piece. The other things swimming around in your mind might still be there, just not at the center.
Breath is portable
Whenever we can find a way to make breath a resource for you, I am thrilled. You can practice deep breathing, or focused breathing, anywhere you go. No other equipment necessary. My aim in therapy is always to help you get results outside of my office, so this is a great go-to.
Let’s be clear- if all you needed to do to feel better was to breathe, a lot fewer folks would need therapy! It’s obviously not easy, and for a few folks, can be problematic and triggering. But it’s a useful mini-intervention when things get complicated.
So take a deep breath.
Breath is just one part of engaging body and mind to heal trauma and help you get control of your emotions. If you feel you may need more support, contact me and we’ll come up with a game plan.