Patricia Lynn Belkowitz, M.Msc., C.Ht., EFT

Patricia-El Mata

Studies show that just twenty minutes a day focused on calming thoughts is very beneficial. It decreases the risk of hypertension, reduces chronic pain, and can reverse the loss of brain cells that occur from prolonged stress. It even turns off the mechanisms that increase your appetite! Sitting, breathing and not thinking can actually help you to lose weight. Imagine that!

Your breathing is controlled by your subconscious mind, part of the sympathetic nervous system. You don’t have to think about breathing. It just happens. But that can be a problem. When you get stressed, your breathing changes. Your breath feels different. It becomes more shallow and faster. It moves from your lower belly to high in your chest. In the meantime, the stress is causing your adrenal glands to pump out the hormones needed to manage your anxiety. You are now in fight-flight reaction, ready to attack the saber-toothed tiger or run back into your cave. Your bloodstream is filled with the toxins of fear and your muscles are tense.

After that ordeal, you are hungry. Over time the adrenaline and cortisol hormones that are released create a buildup of belly fat. Isn’t it ironic that weight loss plans cause stress because they involve changes in behavior? And scheduling time for a workout adds even more stress? And then there is the stress of realizing that your pants are too tight! Why does this happen? Thousands of years ago, when people were faced with starvation, the stress would activate this fat trigger to keep us alive. Unfortunately, our bodies have not adapted their reactions to modern day life. They can’t tell the difference between life-or-death situations or traffic on the way to work. Whether it is physical, emotional or mental, conscious or subconscious stress, it releases cortisol into your body. Cortisol makes you gain weight and stops you from losing weight.

Breathing is not stressful! In fact, it is not only absolutely essential to life, it is enjoyable! Try it right now. Take a big deep breath. Inhale as fully as you possibly can. And then exhale fully. And again. Doesn’t that feel good?

Sitting comfortably and focusing on your breath is actually a form of meditation or self-hypnosis. It helps you to center yourself. You always benefit from going within and getting in touch with the human being who is you. Allowing this time to breathe in balance and harmony between body and mind is very beneficial for creative thinking and intuitive knowledge. You may not be able to devote twenty minutes every day to this practice, but surely you can give yourself at least five!

As the holiday season of over-indulgence begins, I suggest you become more mindful of your breathing. And also become more aware of how you are nourishing yourself. Take the time to start each meal with five deep breaths. Become mindful of the food; note the aroma, the colors and textures. Practice a moment of gratitude for the abundance of the earth. Set an intention about wellness and health. Breathe in the fullness of life. Breathe out any stress.