“When you constantly determine whether you’re measuring up, this turns on your stress response because you either forget to breathe or hardly breathe. Your feelings of insecurity increase. In this vulnerable state, you tend to mindlessly react, and in doing so you lose your connection with yourself.” (Marotta, 2014, 17).
While the stress response is stimulated by short, shallow chest breathing, the relaxation response is turned on with deep, long abdominal breathing. The nervous system cools down and the brain is placed into a peaceful state, giving yourself and others a break. Ask yourself: “Do I spend most of the day in chest breathing (low-grade red alert mode) or abdominal breathing (relaxed and centered)?”
To learn how to turn on the relaxation response through abdominal breathing, lie comfortably on your back and close your eyes. Notice how without even trying, the breath is naturally occurring. With light attention on the breath, invite the breath to slow and deepen on its own. When your breath lengthens into its natural state, your belly rises with the inhalation and falls with the exhalation—like a balloon inflating as the breath enters and deflating as the air leaves. Simply follow the breath as it lengthens and quiets. Feel the rhythmic flow of the in breath and out breath as you rest in abdominal breathing.