Learning To Breathe

Breath is essential for life. We know this. 


Breath invites oxygen into our lungs. Our lungs introduce oxygen into the bloodstream. But what affects our lungs? Obviously, we all know that respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia, asthma, emphysema, COPD, even the common cold, affect our ability to breathe fully.

(Photo by  Eli DeFaria  on  Unsplash )

(Photo by Eli DeFaria on Unsplash)


But what about pain? Anxiety? Other emotions?


If you’re an avid reader like myself, you know that when the hero of the story takes a bullet in the leg or shoulder his breath “becomes ragged from pain.” When the heroine is anxiously awaiting word on the outcome of an accident, or when her man does or says something poignant, her “breath catches in her throat.”


None of us remembers learning how to breathe or needs to remind ourselves to breathe throughout the day. This is a God-given, automatic function of our bodies that is necessary for our survival. 


(Photo by  Valeriia Bugaiova  on  Unsplash )

And yet, because our breath can be affected by things like pain, sickness, and anxiety, it is important to pay attention to our breathing and learn to be intentional. To learn how to give our bodies support to do these automatic functions well. Even to take our lungs off auto-pilot once in a while.


One of the most important things I’ve learned through yoga classes is how to breathe. I wrote about it in a post about exercise a few months ago. You can check that out here: More Things We Don't Like To Talk About It was truly transformative! I know not everyone is able to do yoga, I’m not currently taking any yoga classes myself. I do miss it and will go again, but I’ve held on to the breathing techniques that I learned in class and I find that this is truly the most transformational aspect.


When you’re feeling anxious, overwhelmed, scared, or in pain, take some time to focus on your breathing. This video, 3 Breathing Techniques simply demonstrates three different techniques. Find the one that works for you. 


It takes time. It takes practice. I promise that if you invest that time in yourself you will see results.


In staff meeting earlier this week one of my employees, Gloria, was giving us an update on her 88-year-old mother who recently fell and cracked 5 ribs. Talk about pain while breathing! Thankfully they were only cracked, not broken, so there was no lung puncture. However, because she had to stay pretty still while they healed, the hospital gave her a Spirometer to keep her lungs active and avoid any fluid build-up. She was to use the Spirometer for 10 minutes a day. 


Well, ten minutes proved to be overwhelming for her, so Gloria asked the nurse if they could break it up throughout the day. The nurse responded, “Of course, just have her do it during the commercials while she watches TV!”


The next day they were watching TV together at home. At the first commercial break Gloria reminded her mom, “Time to do your breathing!” She did it faithfully for the first couple of commercial breaks then loudly announced “I’m done watching TV, turn that thing off!!” 😂



Sometimes it is difficult, even painful, to do the things that are good for us. I ask you to invest in yourself, observe your breathing, and learn how to make it better. Your mind and your body will thank you!


PS – my favorite band ever, Lifehouse, has a song titled “Breathing” and another great band, Switchfoot, has a song titled “Learning to Breathe.” Both of these bands have been instrumental in getting me through tough times. Coincidence?! Probably not. 😉 Listen here.


-Liz C.



Lifehouse – Breathing (Spotify)

Lifehouse – Storm (Youtube)

Switchfood – Learning to Breathe (Youtube)