7:11 Breathing: What it is and how to do it
Today I would like to share with you a new skill that a wonderful lady I met this week has taught me, and it has made such a difference to my thinking and being already, I really think it is worth sharing with as many people as possible.
Have you heard of 7:11 breathing? If you have, do you know what it is? And if you know what it is, do you know what it is actually doing? Well I hope to explain this simply and effectively. Anyone can do it, and the wonder of it is, you can do it anytime, anywhere, and it only takes a few minutes!
Simply put, 7:11 breathing is a way of breathing, and breathing out for longer than you breathe in. Why? Breathing in is the Alert Mode of our body system, and breathing out is the Relaxation Mode of our body system. So when we breathe out longer than we breathe in, we are helping our bodies to relax and calm down. This is particularly helpful if you are feeling stressed, tense, or your mind is so busy that you are beginning to feel wound up because you cannot let go of all those bothersome thoughts.
And here’s another thing: When our body tenses up, through stress or anger, it can take up to 20 minutes for the body to come back to a relaxed state. So if you have ever wondered why you are holding on to angry feelings, or cannot let go of certain thoughts or the stress you are feeling – it’s because you haven’t given your body enough time and space to be able to fully calm down and reset again. This is also a great example of how the body and mind are linked: When we think about things that makes us stressed or angry, or otherwise emotional – what does the body do? Right – it reacts to those thoughts. And you may not even be aware of it at the time, but with these thoughts, the body begins to tense up. Once the body has reacted in this way, it becomes hard to let go (Sound familiar?) 7:11 breathing releases the tension and stress in both the body and the mind, allowing both to relax and come to a ‘reset’ state of total calm. I did this for just a few minutes with the lady who taught it to me, and those few minutes were enough to completely change my body’s reaction, and, even more wonderful – I stopped thinking! My mind was in a state of total relaxation; no worrying or busy thoughts trying to insert themselves into my brain. As I say, a few minutes of doing this can help immensely – if you can find 20 minutes to do this, it will have an even bigger effect.
Ready to try? Okay here we go then: sit, lie or stand comfortably, whatever feels natural to you. Make sure you are in a relaxed position. Breathe normally to start with, just be aware of your breathing. After a few breaths, pause slightly at the end of your out breath, and then as you breathe in, breathe up from your stomach, all the way up… (known as diaphragmic breathing), feel your chest swelling with your breath, as much as you can comfortably. Try and count how long you are breathing in for. Now, breathe out and count, try to breathe out for longer than you breathed in. To start, don’t worry by how much, just make sure you are breathing comfortably, and get the hang of breathing out longer than in. The idea is that, as you become more practised, you breathe out for 4 more than you breathe in – hence, ‘7:11 breathing’. As you are doing this, keep your shoulders relaxed, your whole body relaxed. Do it as long as it is comfortable. A little to start with, to get used to it. When you have finished, take note of how you feel, in your body and your mind.
And that’s it. That is all there is to it. You can practice this when washing up, hoovering, taking the kids to school, in bed before you go to sleep, watching t.v… anytime, anywhere.
Simple, effective, and potentially life-changing.
I hope you find this useful, and please do let me know if you try this, and your experiences with this marvellous skill.