Deep breathing is one of the simplest and easiest of all stress reduction techniques. It can be performed anywhere, any time of day and costs nothing. There are many approaches to deep breathing but the one I recommend for patients is a simple 4-8-6 breathing pattern.
Find a comfortable sitting position with your hands resting gently across your lap or on your legs, palms up. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Inhale deeply thru your nose to the count of 4, hold your breath to the count of 8 and then exhale deeply thru your mouth to the count of 6. With practice, you will naturally focus on your breathing and won’t need to count. I recommend 10 minute segments once or twice per day.
By focusing on the breath, you bring your awareness to the present moment. The near constant brain chatter so many people experience daily quiets itself. The worries of yesterday and tomorrow are replaced by mindful breathing in the present moment. The present moment is where life is lived.
Most patients find this technique very relaxing physically and calming mentally. An added benefit is the increase of oxygen in the blood stream thru this concentrated breathing approach. That helps relax tense muscles especially in the neck and low back areas, tight from our chaotic lifestyles.
Deep breathing is usually my first mind/body suggestion for helping patients find and restore a sense of balance in their lives. I recommend this technique first before moving patients on to other mind/body approaches such as mindfulness and meditation.
Holistically, when deep breathing is combined with lifestyle changes such as an exercise program and improved nutrition, significant positive health benefits are seen. These include lower blood pressure, lower incidence of heart attack and stroke and a calmer, more balanced feel for life.
Dr. Allan Bazzoli, MD is a practitioner of Acupuncture, Holistic Medicine, and Physical Medicine in the Mt. Vernon/Central Ohio and Columbus area. He is available for speaking engagements on a variety of holistic medical topics. This material can be distributed free to the public as long as there is no remuneration and credit is given to the author.