Shaman & Holistic
Transformation Facilitator

Mindfulness Mondays ~ Coherence Breathing

Breathe in slowly for a count of 5.
Breathe out slowly for a count of 5. 
Continue for 5 or 6 cycles of breath or as long as you feel to practice.

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One who has gradually practiced, 
Developed and brought to perfection 
Mindfulness of the in-and-out breath 
As taught by the Enlightened One, 
Illuminates the entire world 
Like the moon when freed from clouds. 
Developing a relationship with our breath is at the heart of many mindfulness and meditation practices.  Although some feel that altering our breath, may not fall under the realm of mindfulness, I have found that a practice of coherence breathing is highly beneficial in cultivating our relationship with the breath and is particularly helpful in becoming present with the in and out breaths.  Counting in and of itself, without changing or deepening the breath, is another good practice, which we will explore in another post. 
 
In the book, “The Healing Power of the Breath”, authors Richard Brown, MD and Patricia L. Gerber, MD, share:
“Breathing can alleviate negative feelings, such as fear, anxiety, frustration, anger, depression, self-blame, confusion, restlessness, and physical discomforts. With regular practice over time breathwork can bring improvements in physical health, physical endurance, and resilience. But breathing is not just a treatment for life’s ills,; it can also enhance pleasurable and creative activities such as musical performance, writing, team sports, or just being with nature. Breath practices nurture positive emotions, loving feelings, compassion, our sense of connection with what is meaningful in life, and our sense of bonding with others.”
Coherence Breathing is a simple way to work with your breath by synchronizing the in and out breaths for a count of five on both the in and out breaths; this can be varied from four to six counts depending on your comfort and breath patterns. This type of breathing can have a profound impact on your body, mind, emotions and spirit.  
Meditation teacher Tara Brach refers to this technique as a “heart breath”.  In a sense it is training your system to have deeper, slower breaths, which supports greater calm, balance and well-being.   Often, our natural tendency is to have shorter, shallower breaths. Coherence Breathing also supports your ability to become more mindful as you practice; and as you cultivate a deeper relationship you also deepen  your awareness of your whole being.

Scientists have found that there is an ideal breath rate for each person, somewhere between 4 and 6 breaths per minute using equal timing for breathing in and breathing out.  This patterning helps to increase our heart-rate variability and balance our stress response systems. Also, the electronic rhythms of the heart, lungs, and brain become synchronized, which is known as a resonant rate amongst researchers.  Although the research is new, this pattern of breathing has been known amongst meditation practitioners and traditions for centuries.  

Here is a chart of some of the benefits of Coherence Breathing vs. Shallow Breathing:

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Source: http://www.bmedreport.com/archives/7303/

For this week’s exploration, practice Coherence Breathing by working with breathing in for a count of five and out for a count of five.  You may need to vary the in and out between a count of four and six depending on what feels comfortable for you.  Ideally, practicing for 5 – 10 minutes is good start, but even one minute can be beneficial.

Namaste.

Beth

 

 

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