How to properly breathe to get calm
The meaning of coherence
The term coherence describes a unified whole. This refers primarily to the respiration and heart rate being in sync. Through a special breathing technique, internal harmonization is achieved, which leads to a cheerful calmness.
Through slow and even breathing with about six breaths per minute, the sympathetic nervous system is activated when inhaling, and the parasympathetic nervous system is activated when exhaling. Accordingly, the heart rate increases while inhaling and decreases while exhaling.
The following instructions will help you to learn the cardiac coherence breathing exercise. You’ll need the Breath Ball app, which you can download free of charge from:
Open Breath Ball and start the cardiac coherence exercise. Gently breathe to the rhythm of the ball: Inhale while the ball is expanding, and exhale while the ball is shrinking.
Imagine this ball is in your belly. It is slowly filled with air as you inhale until it is full, but not too full. After a short pause, you breathe out slowly and quietly, the ball becomes smaller. You can enjoy a short pause before you start to inhale again.
At the beginning, concentrate only on breathing, but gradually leave the breath to itself and direct your attention into your body. If you like, you can close your eyes. Perhaps you can feel the soothing and relaxing effect of exhaling. Often there is warmth or a tingling sensation in the hands, the muscles relax, and you have the feeling that you are sinking a little deeper. Many people also feel the heart slowing down. Whatever it is that you feel, if it changes with your breathing rhythm, it is a certain sign that you are approaching coherence.
Breathe in gently to the rhythm of the ball. The air provides you the oxygen and with it the energy to live. This energy should then be able to work as you exhale. Therefore try to hold it a little inside of you and then let it trickle through your body very slowly while you exhale. It is this energy that creates a deep peace in your body.
A calm that comes from the parasympathetic nervous system blossoming and determining what happens for a few seconds. The parasympathetic nervous system is linked to non-activity. That’s why we refer to coherence breathing as the art of targeted non-willingness. As soon as you want something, for example, to relax while exhaling, you activate the sympathetic nervous system. Activating it is very easy. Every little spark of desire triggers the sympathetic nervous system. But we don’t need it when we exhale. The better we succeed in not wanting anything when exhaling, the sooner the parasympathetic nervous system can blossom.
A comparison might help at this point: Imagine you have stirred a spoonful of sand into a glass of water. By stirring it firmly, the sand is evenly distributed in the water. Now the task is to let the sand sink to the bottom. Whatever you do, whether you shake, stir in the other direction, or whatever, it will prevent the sand from sinking. Only when you do nothing will the sand begin to sink all by itself.
And from this kind of calmness comes the impulse for the next breath.
It is vital that you inhale very gently because even a little too firm inhalation activates the sympathetic nervous system far too much. The sympathetic nervous system is quite receptive, and it understands your conscious inhalation as a signal to get active. That’s what it is supposed to do, but only a little, so: Inhale gently, very gently. Here’s a little story: Imagine you are walking through a park. You see a sleeping lion ahead of you. Gently, very gently, you pass by not to wake him up. The lion is the sympathetic nervous system that can be awakened way too easily.
Inhale gently, but consciously. There is enough air for all of us, and so there is for you. Fill your belly and chest with air. But only as far as it feels pleasant. When you focus on your breathing, you’ll notice that inhaling is easy for a while. At some point, the body starts to break more and more and even to tense against it. It takes strength to keep breathing in. You should not go beyond this “breaking point.” Everything should go very easily and not degenerate into abdominal acrobatics.
Now try it for yourself.
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