I believe that the most powerful concept that we addressed in the book “Perfect Breathing: Transform Your Life One Breath at a Time” was the concept of awareness. Not that this was our brain-child – I think someone beat us to the punch by five or ten thousand years – but it is hands down the most important tool at our disposal when it comes to making changes, improving our lives, and dealing with stress.
Without awareness, we are wandering around in the dark without any reference point. And if you are trying to get somewhere, it is very helpful (read that essential) that you know where you are starting from. Awareness provides you with that critical information, i.e. “where am I right now?” and “what is the state of my mind, body, emotions, and spirit?”
We feel strongly that developing an awareness of your breath is the most practical, efficient, and accessible method of developing mind/body awareness and devote a considerable amount of ink in “Perfect Breathing” to helping people accomplish that.
A recent guest post at the dailypress.com by Mike Verano, a thymus cancer survivor provides some really valuable perspective on the subject of stress and awareness as well as one of the most often asked questions “How do I deal with stress?”
Mike provides three great tips. You can read them for yourself here, but I’ll summarize them for you:
First, forget about getting rid of stress or even managing it. It is ever-present and usually it arises from things that we have no control over. Instead, focus on something that you do have control over – namely “you.” In any given situation, the constants, the things that you always have control over are your thoughts and your actions.
Secondly, stress is not something that is thrust upon you. You are not a victim of stress. It is something that you create. Stress arises when our circumstances require a change of behavior when we would prefer to keep doing business as usual. Using the mindfulness technique of (figuratively) stepping back, taking a deep breath and asking the question “why am I stressed?” or “why am I angry or frustrated?” or “what am I resisting?” is an amazingly effective technique for diffusing stress.
That brings us to the third tip: Breathing. Your breath has the power to counteract the “fight or flight” chemicals that are coursing through your body and shift your thought process away from the “woulda, shoulda, couldas” of the past and the “what-ifs” of the future. It brings you solidly back to the here and now, where as it turns out, everything is actually happening. And to complete the circle, as mentioned earlier, focus on the breath deepens your awareness of your mind, body, and emotions, which in turn allows you to clearly see the actions and behaviors that are creating stressful situations.
So in honor of Stress Awareness month give these simple techniques a try and turn the tables on stress!