We have an intuitive understanding that the breath can regulate our mind and emotions. Most of us have either told others or been told ourselves to “take a deep breath” when things got challenging.
However, because breathing happens automatically, many of us don’t give the breath as much attention nor have we learned to harness its full potential to calm our minds.
Scientific research is proving our intuition. We can change how we feel using our breath!
A research study by Pierre Phillipot showed that different emotional states are associated with distinct respiration patterns. For example, when the participants felt anxious or afraid, they breathed more quickly and shallowly and when they felt happy, they breathed slowly and fully.
Even more interesting was the follow-up study in which the researchers invited in a different group of participants into their lab and instructed them to breathe in the patterns they had observed corresponded to emotions. The researchers literally told the participants how to breathe and then asked them how they felt. The participants started to feel the emotions that corresponded to the breathing patterns!
This finding is revolutionary: We can change how we feel using our breath!
Given the fact that it is so difficult to change one’s emotions using thoughts alone – try “talking yourself out of” intense anger or anxiety –, learning to use the breath becomes a very powerful tool. Since it is so difficult “talk” our way out of our feelings, we can learn to “breathe” our way through them.
Click here to read this fascinating study.