Why it matters
Health, fulfilment and ultimately satisfaction is what we all want. We entered 2020 with a plotted path for the months ahead but in March all that changed. We found ourselves in unknown territory as most of what we planned went out of the window, and fear and stress started to be part of each day.
We all know that this is not what we want, but how do we overcome these feelings? How do we reduce our stress levels and replace fear with purpose? Surprisingly, it is what we do every day ……… breathe. To be more precise, breathe consciously.
Numerous studies on the subject of practicing various forms of mindful breathing point to a multitude of powerful benefits on the body. To touch the tip of the iceberg, let’s mention a few:
- builds the immune system
- brings the body and mind into a relaxed state
- improves memory
- alkalizes the body
- aids digestion
- facilities sleep
How can mindful breathing have such a powerful effect on the body, yet the unconscious breathing we automatically do, does not?
The effect that mindful breathing offers is directly dependent on a finely orchestrated balance between Oxygen (O) and Carbon Dioxide (CO2) in our body. Our lifestyle influences the way we breathe. Rapid, shallow breathing is the mark of our times, and it results in the excess loss of CO2 from the lungs and blood, which disrupts the balance required for our optimal health.
Reduced levels of CO2 cause blood vessels to constrict, affecting blood flow and oxygen delivery in the body. If you have experienced hyperventilation, you know that breathing into a bag, that delivers more CO2, is helpful. The level of CO2 has a direct influence on how much oxygen blood can release into a cell, to be precise into mitochondria, where it is utilized for energy production. It also disrupts the acid-alkali balance, resulting in increased levels of free radicals and decreased viscosity of the blood.
It becomes clear that CO2 inside our bodies is our best friend even though it’s the villain blamed for global warming. Research done on the role CO2 plays in the body indicates the direct influence of its levels on:
- brain cell protection in conditions where oxygen is scarce
- calming the nervous system
- reducing depression and anxiety
- anti-inflammatory effectiveness
- aiding digestion
- cancer prevention
- improving energy levels
Reprogram your body
Data also shows that healthy people have a high tolerance for CO2. As the CO2 levels in our body depends on the way we breathe, it shows that the levels are therefore adjustable.
With regular practice of mindful breathing, we can reprogram our CO2 levels and thereby achieve what we aim for – a more calm and healthy, body and mind.
In part 2 of Every Breath You Take, we will unpack the various parts of our body that we use when breathing mindfully, revealing the importance of our nose, mouth, diaphragm, belly, chest and much more.
We invite you to join us.