Breathing is the only vital function of your body over which you have conscious control.
When your life feels out of control, regulating your breathing helps you regulate your life. In Korean, regulating breathing is called Joshik
While breathing reflects your physiological and psychological condition, it can also affect it because it affects the balance of your autonomic nervous system (ANS), which is composed of your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. The sympathetic nervous system excites you and the parasympathetic nervous system calms you. The ANS influences all of the body’s vital functions, such as your heartbeat, to accomplish this.
When you are stressed and emotional, this is a sympathetic response. By slowing down and deepening your breathing, you can shift your body toward a parasympathetic response, finding your center.
Every breath you take demonstrates a balance between these two systems. Put your index and middle fingers on your wrist or on your neck just under your jaw to feel your pulse. How fast is it? While breathing comfortably, try to notice any difference in your pulse between when you inhale and exhale. You may discover that it becomes faster when you inhale and slower when you exhale. Your heartbeat speeding up indicates the actions of your sympathetic nervous system while your heartbeat slowing down indicates the actions of your parasympathetic nervous system.
Sometimes you may need action and excitement more while at other times you may need rest and relaxation more. Overall, however, your body maintains a balance between these two extremes. You can balance your life by consciously balancing the effects of your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.
But first you need to notice when they are out of balance. If you are stressed, acknowledge it. When you are aware of your stress, you have the opportunity to use the time between the stressor and your reaction to it to make a choice other than a habitual response; you gain the chance to act in the best way for the situation.
Once you acknowledge that you’re stressed, become aware of your breathing and breathe comfortably
. As soon as you become aware of your breathing, it naturally becomes deep and slow.
Focus on each pause between inhaling and exhaling. It will give you a sense of space and quietude inside you. This sense of space and quietude will give you power and freedom to make a better choice, even in a situation that has caused you stress.
The deeper and slower your breathing becomes, the more space you will create inside you. Eventually, the space will become so big that all your thoughts and emotions look trivial and insignificant in the vastness of your inner space. That’s how you can attain peacefulness inside, which is your natural state, your true nature.
Breathing is the most natural and powerful way to balance your energy, calm your mind, and enhance your concentration. By attuning your breathing, you can become one with the natural rhythm of life that flows through you all the time.