Dear Abby –
What does deep breathing do for me if I’m having a stressful moment? It seems too simple to really make a difference when it seems like my world is falling apart around me.
From Suzan Kearney –
Our human system is a sophisticated series of feedback mechanisms that have been in place from very early on. When we were being chased by tigers on the savannah, our survival-related feedback mechanisms were securely in place & something about it seems to be working for us – we’re still roaming the planet!
When we are being chased by a tiger, our breath is very shallow & very rapid. This shallow, rapid breathing sends a message to our built-in alarm system (i.e. the vagus nerve & the limbic system) that we are in danger. Therefore, our system goes into survival, alarm state, otherwise known as STRESS. Stress, then, causes a cascade of biochemical responses meant to keep our whole system on alert & ready to take action at any moment. This action, however, may not come from our highest intellectual places. It’s meant to keep the system alive at all costs, i.e. SURVIVAL.
If we are not, in fact, being chased by a tiger, we would do well to breathe deeply & slowly. Deep, slow breathing can reverse this stress response by telling the vagus nerve that all’s well, which tells the limbic system that it can bring its level of vigilance down. As this stress response settles down, we have intellectual access to more options and choices for problem solving. Otherwise known as THRIVING.
In a nutshell:
Shallow, rapid breathing tells the vagus nerve that the system is being threatened, which tells the limbic system to be on high alert & operate from a SURVIVAL point of view.
Deep, slow breathing tells the vagus nerve that all is well, which tells the limbic system to bring the level of vigilance down & to operate from a THRIVING point of view.
So, the often times quippy, annoying advice to, “Just breathe!” may be the easiest way to move from SURVIVING to THRIVING in a matter of moments.
Rapid Eye Technology is one of the most-effective ways to retrain the limbic system for THRIVING on a very deep, consistent level. Through the course of your RET sessions, you will learn simple, effective self-care tools, including HOW to breathe to turn the volume down on your limbic alarm system. Feel free to contact Suzan at [email protected] for more information.