Slower Breathing: More Energy, Less Anxiety


One of the best ways to clear and focus the mind, reduce anxiety, and boost our energy is to breathe slowly.

Many forms of meditation utilize attentiveness to the breath since air is essential for our well being. Out of all the energy we use for our daily activities, only 20 percent is acquired through food and sunlight. An amazing 80 percent of our energy comes from breathing.

The Benefits of Breathing Slow

By breathing slowly and deeply we stimulate and balance our nervous system, helping to keep our nerves in a state of calm. Tranquil nerves can efficiently and quickly coordinate our body’s various processes, delivering vital messages from one area to another. It is easy to see how every breath we take affects our whole being.

As we breathe, the stale air in our lungs is exchanged for fresh. If we breathe - inhale and exhale - 15 times each minute, only 60 percent of the air in our lungs is exchanged with every breath. To exchange all the air and better energize our body, we only need to slow the speed of our breathing.

The average rate of breathing for humans is 15 to 20 times per minute. By reducing our breaths to 10 or 12 each minute, the body is more oxygenated and our nervous system soothed. Some people experience a drop in stress hormone levels and blood pressure.

Easy Tranquil Breathing Exercise

Getting into the habit of slower breathing is not difficult if you practice this simple exercise regularly.

There are just three steps:

  1. Smile gently, even a half smile will do.
  2. Now, in a relaxed and slow way, breathe through your nostrils. On each in-breath your belly should rise or swell; on each exhale the belly relaxes back to its resting position.
  3. Wearing the gentle smile, continue the slow, relaxed breathing.

You can make this exercise more effective, and maybe more fun, by using your imagination to picture something peaceful, charming, or beautiful as you breathe.

Wearing a smile during this exercise serves a purpose. Smiling causes our body to manufacture and release more endorphins, a hormone that promotes positive feelings. Endorphins relax the body’s organs and tissues so they can absorb more of the oxygen entering our lungs through slow breathing practice.

Source: Master Chunyi Lin, Spring Forest Qigong, Learning Strategies, Corp., 2000.
Photo credit: Alias 0591 / flickr

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