So when our baby would cry and the breathing wouldn’t immediately help, she wouldn’t catch on, we couldn’t snap her out of her crying, well, at least it calmed us down. And eventually, that had a calming effect on her.
Think about our normal reaction when a baby cries: breath stopped, brain not getting oxygen, “What can I do to make this baby stop crying?”
So, holding our breath; body’s lacking oxygen; telling brain, “We need oxygen”; brain starts panicking. It’s so hard to stop.
When our daughter was a little older and started crying, we would say, “Breathe.”
As soon as she started crying, we’d get eye contact, get right in her face, and say, “Breathe.”
And then we’d do it with her: smiling and breathing. And she’d normally jump right on and breathe super loud. If she’s still crying, and we can’t stop her, then we grab her and hold her. Just hug her and breathe with her until she breathes and calms herself down.
And let’s take a look at this breathing.
(Video clip: Jim Kambeitz: Lily, what’s the matter? Breathe, honey. Yeah, breathe.
(Both breathing deeply)
Yeah. It’s okay, don’t cry, Lily).
So that’s what it looks like; she literally went, in about seven seconds, from screaming like crazy to deep breathes, and she started smiling. Totally amazing.
So my wife and I, we’re thinking, “Hey, this is really great.” But then we hit terrible twos or terrific twos, depending on who you are.
And in the terrific twos, we have tantrums, and tantrums will force you to learn yoga in a whole new way.
As my friend in Poland said, “Yoga is not for the mat. You have to practice it while changing a diaper with one arm and holding a second baby with the other on one leg while doing your taxes.”
But what do you do? Child is tantruming; you’re trying to get her to breathe, it won’t start breathing — like a computer, kind of frozen?
So, the next thing we need to practice is detached observation without judgment. Child starts crying, make sure they’re safe, detach and leave the room. If they resume tantruming, stay calm; eventually it will go away.
A tantrum, like all our bad emotions and tough situations in our life, they will leave our bodies, with time. And research has shown that you cannot have an emotion in your body any longer than seven seconds unless you fuel it.
Remember, anxiety is in our mind, and our mind has to give us the fuel to keep it going.
Here’s a formula for transforming uncomfortable emotions or experiences, with our breath.
First, we recognize what we’re suffering from: “Oh, anger, frustration.”
Next, we start breathing very deeply. And next, we release it and keep breathing. It will go away.
So, speaking of going away, I’m going to leave you with one last fact my scuba-diving teacher taught me years ago: “It is biologically impossible to have an anxiety or panic attack when you are breathing fully, deeply, slowly.”
You can’t do it. Think of how many billions of dollars are spent each year in anxiety, arthritis meds, supplements, surgeries; money and time wasted on the symptom instead of healing from the root.
And I confess, I did it too. I tried everything from protein shakes and antidepressants to shark-cartilage pills and knee surgeries. Searching for the answer outside when all along, we have all the tools we need right here inside us.
So I invite you to give permission to yourself to control and extend your breath, and in so doing, control and extend your life.
If a baby can do it, then so can you.
Resources for Further Reading: