My name is Kai, and until two years ago, I wasn’t very good at knowing how to breathe.
Odd isn’t it? I’m admitting that I didn’t know how to breathe to calm down. Because of that, I had a lot of issues with my meditation practices, which isn’t as uncommon as many people think, but I do also think, it’s not something people often admit to. I’ve talked more about it in one of my new books, but here I am, holding my hands up to practicing meditation, but not actually knowing how to breathe and calm myself.
It sounds oversimplistic – if all you need to do is take three deep breaths (in through the nose, out through the mouth if possible (breathing out through your nose can cause backflow into your lungs and you might not get the ‘full deep breath’ treatment if you breathe out through your nose, but I’m not actually sure and I’m researching now why all meditations start with an in through the nose, out through the mouth. If anyone knows why, I’d love to share.)
I’ll be talking about more of this in H for Headspace (the app and the actual thing), and M for mindfulness, meditation and me, but I’ll be honest, learning to breathe has been a revelation.
What do you mean by learning to breathe?
I ‘found my way’ to this technique simply by giving in and stopping arguing. Y’see, I’ve always been able to meditate – I don’t actually worry about my ability to do that, but it turns out that I wasn’t ‘doing it’ right, if there’s even that concept when meditating. I guess the video below (which, is, ironically from Headspace), explains how my meditation actually looked before.
(hint, I’d go out and chase my ‘traffic thoughts’).
So, here I am, learning to do everything I needed to do, but breathing was a huge issue.
Why pausing and taking a deep breath is almost always good
I gotta be honest, I used to side-eye my pysch nurse when she said that one of the major things I could do is *just breathe*. I was the sort of person that counted out of order, that snapped a band on my wrist, or…I’ll be honest, I’d just melt down. I’m a 42 year old woman and I’ve cried in public more than the average toddler. I might be one of the few adults that freaked the *hell* out in Disneyland, to the point that my family had to make a ring around me while I sat and sobbed.
In the last few years though, especially since the lockdown, I started committing to refreshing my meditation practice. I was lucky enough to get access to Headspace (no they don’t sponsor us, I just adore them), and I work with their stuff to get through. And just going back through the basics, I have to say, I might go sharing out after the traffic of my thoughts far less, and while I still deal with a lot of distress, just *three* deep breaths not only gives me the chance to stop and focus on something other than what’s triggering me, but warns my family that I’m struggling. If that doesn’t work, I default to counting odd numbers out of order, or snapping bands or whatever, but seriously, take a few deep breaths. Things might look different afterwards!