Key Insights About Breath Work

Before reading Donna Farhi’s “The Breathing Book,” I never thought about my breathing patterns and how much these patterns have been affecting my health and wellness.

My thought was always that since my breathing is part of the autonomic nervous system, it should be operating correctly on its own.

Little did I know how much stress or life circumstances could adversely affect breathing patterns and overall health.

The Fundamentals Of Breathing 

Donna says that the process of breathing is the most accurate metaphor for the way we approach life.

For example, how do you react to inevitable changes in your life?

In the past, I was always the person who would “hold my breath“ when I knew a change was coming that I didn’t want. As if I could stop something from happening. 

Breathing is inseparable from our health, spirit, and consciousness.

Developing a perception of breathing should start with inquiry, feeling, and sensing. This isn’t something that we need to force. 

Just observe. 

We should acknowledge that along the spectrum of breathing is the unconscious and involuntary breath, and at the other end is the controlled and regulated breath. 

If breathing becomes unconsciously altered, you could experience irritation, anxiousness, tiredness, or a feeling of being in a hurry.

Get To Know Your Breath

There are steps to getting to know your breath:

  1. Recognize the movements in your body when you breathe
  2. Notice how you may be preventing breath from entering and leaving your body freely (especially when life is not going as planned)
  3. Develop self-awareness and self-reflective consciousness

Initially, you may have a vague or very general sense of your breathing. As time goes on, your perception will become refined. 

Just try to remember that breathing freely is the result of deep relaxation rather than forceful effort.

Two questions you can ask yourself to help you “check in“ with your breathing:

  1. Where do you feel your breathing (i.e., abdomen, chest, nostrils)?
  2. What does your breathing feel like (is it labored, jerky, or rhythmic)? 

There are inquiries throughout the book that serve as tools to help you become more familiar with your body and how it works. The inquiries are a way of entering the experience of breathing more deeply. 

I’ve had a lot of success with practicing the inquiries and developing a better sense of self and awareness of my body.

Practical Breathing Exercises 

Donna Farhi offers numerous practical breathing exercises to help with anything from allergies to back pain to post-traumatic stress and everything in between.

For example, the exercise sequence for fatigue and recovery from illness involves seven breathing exercises that will take about 30 to 40 minutes to complete. (P. 217)

Donna points out that the focus should be on improving the quality of how you feel and not how many repetitions you can do or how long you stick with the movements.

Final Thoughts 

I think it’s important to mention that Donna reminds us that we can fall into a trap with any mindfulness practice. She cautions against thinking that through gradual improvement, we will arrive as a truly perfect human being. Some of us believe that at that moment we will be happy. 

She says that what we are and what we wish to know are the same thing. We are awakened consciousness.

Also, breath work is not intended to be the only line of action to help health conditions. We also should focus on diet, lifestyle, exercise, and many other factors.

I can’t say enough about how much this book has helped me.

If this resonated with you, leave a comment below! And thank you for reading!

*As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases of books through this site. 

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