If you tried the exercises in the last article you will have made the first steps towards developing a healthy breathing pattern.
This next exercise builds on the last one and its purpose is to discover more about where you breathe, that is, in which part of your lungs. Take some time to complete the exercise, and write down the impressions that first come into your mind.
You can sit as I have described previously or lie comfortably with the legs bent and the feet on the floor. With every area of exploration ask yourself the following questions:
☛ Is it easy to breathe here or is it an effort? Does it feel natural or unnatural?
Place the hands over the abdomen so the tips of the fingers just touch. Now breathe deeply into the area under your hands, and feel the hands moving apart as you breathe in and back together again as you exhale. Repeat several times. This is the abdominal breath – this way of breathing is calming to both the body and the mind.
☛ Does this manner of breathing feel familiar and easy or difficult and unnatural?
Now place both hands under the armpits, firmly against the ribcage. As you breathe in try to consciously expand the ribcage against the pressure of your hands. This is the breathing pattern we use when stressed or in danger. Ask yourself the same questions as above.
Now place the fingertips just below the collarbones. Breathing very softly, try to direct the breath into this area only, and feel the collarbones gently move apart as you breathe in.
Finally cup your hands around the back of your skull and repeat the exercise.
☛ Can you feel any movement here as you breathe?
Now just take a few moments to check whether your breathing has changed from the start of the exercise.
☛ If so, what is the difference? Do you feel different? If so, in what way?
Make notes on what you noticed about your breath and compare these with the characteristics of the healthy breath that I will describe in the next article