There will be people reading this, who remember me saying to them, in times of stress, ‘just remember to breathe’. It’s good advice, stopping breathing has been scientifically proven to be bad for us. But seriously, it is all too easy to forget to breathe properly.
When I’m out riding (and I can hear the groans from here) I can actually slow my heart rate at will by moderating my breathing. When you are working at, or close to, your maximum it is easy to start panting. Short sharp breaths into the top of your lungs are rather inefficient.
The trick is to be mindful of this, to slow your breathing, but to take deep full breaths and allow the oxygen to be absorbed into your bloodstream. Your body will have more oxygen at its disposal, your heart will recognise this and will slow accordingly and this is a much more efficient state in which to continue.
I found this poem while I was browsing the subject …
If you feel overwhelmed, breathe. It will calm you and release the tensions.
If you are worried about something coming up, or caught up in something that already happened, breathe. It will bring you back to the present.
If you are moving too fast, breathe. It will remind you to slow down, and enjoy life more.
Breathe, and enjoy each moment of this life. They’re too fleeting and few to waste.
~ Leo Babauta
Being mindful of our thoughts or, in this case, our bodies and their processes is an important part of the Buddhist practice. If we are to control our emotions, restrain our darker thoughts, or even supress a propensity to hyper-ventilate, we must be mindful.
Creating some form of trigger, by which we force ourselves to look at our behaviour, will allow us to have more control. How we create that trigger is an individual choice, but it could be visual, audible or simply mental. Whatever you choose, stick with it, you will be rewarded in the fullness of time.