Accepting/giving, opening/closing, expanding/shrinking are all words that can be compared to breathing – inhale/exhale.
The purpose of breathing is to exchange gasses between air and blood in our lungs as efficiently as we can. The oxygen that comes from the air, which the most important substance for a human, thus becomes accessible to all body cells, and in the presence of oxygen, the cells release the energy that the cells need to function. On the other hand, carbon dioxide is excreted from the body, which is a cellular metabolism product. If appropriate, breathing allows for balance in the body and homeostasis in the cells. Our breathing quality depends on how we feel, our health, our immune system, our state of mind, and our emotional responses.
But what is the realistic picture of breathing in most cases? Deep, slow, and silent abdominal breathing or breathing with the diaphragm is more common with babies and small children than in teenagers and grownups. Why do changes in the way people breathe occur?
As kids, we face plenty of situations that create emotions that are too painful for us, and we cannot face them. And that’s how we learn to reduce our sensitivity; this happens when we begin to breathe shallower or hold our breath. We protect ourselves from overpowering anger, fear, sadness, and injustice and, unfortunately, from experiencing happiness, joy, and love. We also learn early that older people, such as parents, do not accept certain emotions and approve that certain emotions are intense at all unacceptable or undesirable. As we have said, we protect ourselves from expressing such emotions by holding our breath.
The second reason behind the absence of abdominal breathing, especially with women, is the belief of how we must look. With proper breathing, our abdomen enlarges due to the diaphragm’s lowering into the abdominal cavity, which many people do not find attractive. I remember being taught as a child: Belly in, chest out! In reality, however, this was intended for an upright level posture.
And the third reason brings us back to the stress we mentioned above. A person always responds to a stressful situation with reflexes. Sometimes these responses can be useful, but we run into a problem if such responses are all too common in our life. By then, we usually aren’t aware of the stress anymore, we lose conscious control over certain muscles, and our body adopts a certain posture and movement. The reflex that influences our quality of breathing is the so-called “Red light reflex.” It normally activates at the sight of danger as a defense mechanism against sudden change. Tense abdominal and chest muscles cause the body to lean forward to protect all our vital organs. But years of unconsciously activated red light reflex cause our breathing to become shallow and insufficient. For the most important respiratory muscle – the diaphragm – to move satisfactorily and provide sufficient ventilation, we must have a proper posture. The diaphragm must be at an appropriate position in the body.
By performing AEQ breathing exercises, we begin to thin out the now unnecessary muscle armor in our torso. The muscles that were mostly chronically contracted begin to feel understood, relaxed, and lengthened; the posture becomes better, and thus we also affect the quality of breathing. With improved breathing, we eventually improve everything, even the things we mentioned before – a better immune system, health, higher amounts of energy, a more focused and clearer mind, and better at expressing our feelings. In other words, our quality of life improves.
Through many years of work as a teacher of the AEQ method, I have observed clients that breathed stressfully, even when there is no longer a cause for it. Such a breathing pattern was integrated into their personality over time, which they have not perceived.
Tekst je iz učbenika , ki ga prejmete na delavnici AEQ dihanja®
Aleš Ernst, author of the AEQ method and AEQ breathing