Breathe in Adversity

According to the 2019 National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS 2019), more than half a million people in Malaysia are experiencing symptoms of depression.

As we journey through what seems like a never-ending pandemic, amidst the various levels of lockdowns, increasing unemployment, rising suicide rates and a massive drop in confidence, it is no wonder that many of us are depressed.

According to the 2019 National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS 2019), more than half a million people in Malaysia are experiencing symptoms of depression.

While economies have ground to a halt, and many people are afraid for themselves and their loved ones, can we find a semblance of sanity in all this chaos? According to Eckhart Tolle, author of ‘The Power of Now’ and ‘A New Earth’, we can, as there is opportunity in adversity. He writes:

“The upheaval that we’re experiencing at the present time probably will not be the last upheaval that’s going to come on a collective level. However, it is an opportunity—because although this is a time for upheavals, it is also a time for awakening. The two go together. You need adversity to awaken. It’s an opportunity but not a guarantee. And so what looks tragic and unpleasant on a conventional level is actually perfectly fine as it should be on a higher level; it would not be happening otherwise. It’s all part of the awakening of human beings and of planetary awakening.”

So how do we shift our depressed and fearful minds to see the opportunity in all this adversity that is besieging us? How do we awaken and adapt to a new normal and leave our old ways of doing things?

While some rely on their personal religious paths for faith and hope in uncertain times, there are physiological approaches that can be integrated into our existing arsenal of spiritual tools that can be leveraged for additional results.

Dr Joe Dispenza, neuroscientist, international lecturer, researcher, and author of Evolve Your Brain: The Science of Changing Your Mind says this: “Breathe”.

Yes, breathe. To prove the healing power of conscious deep breath, Dr Dispenza conducted a study in 2020 with the Institute of HeartMath in California on a simple 1-minute deep breathing protocol on 805 individuals to measure  the effects of deep breathing on the heart rate.

Positive findings show that there was an increase in parasympathetic activity, increased heart-brain synchronization, increased vascular resonance, and entrainment between diverse physiological oscillatory systems. 

An increase in parasympathetic activity means that your nervous system has achieved a deep resting state ready to bring your overall being into balance. In short, your body has reached a state of such deep relaxation and healing that it can maintain clarity of mind, good memory and stable emotions; almost close to the state-of-mind of a trained athlete performing an incredible feat with success.

If you find that your body and energy levels are down after a long day of sitting at the table and staring at the laptop, here are steps to start breathing deeply daily while applying some breath suspension techniques to rejuvenate your energy.

Try this 6-minute deep breathing practice for those times when you need to take a break, or a ‘breather’ to rejuvenate.  

1.   First of all, sit comfortably and upright on a chair. Make sure your back is straight and your shoulders are relaxed.

2.   Start to take your first inhale through the nose with closed mouth and make it a slow, deep inhale.

3.   After some 5-8 seconds, naturally allow your exhale to begin. Continue breathing out for another 5-8 seconds in a slow and steady manner.

4.   You can close your eyes at this point and just notice yourself breathing in and out, coming towards a deeper and more relaxed state.

5.   After breathing like this for 3 mins, continue the same slow, deep breath but change the pattern by suspending your breath for 5-8 seconds in between the inhales and exhales.

6.   Continue this new breath pattern of inhaling for 8 seconds, holding the breath at 8 seconds and exhaling for 8 seconds. Continue this pattern for the next 3 minutes.

7.   It is advised that you set a timer to help yourself focus on your breath.

8.   After you’re done, take a deep inhale and suspend your breath for 15-20 seconds, while contracting your stomach, perineum and anal sphincter muscles.

9.   After 15-20 seconds of holding and contracting, release the contracted muscles and exhale completely and relax with normal breathing and notice any sensations within the body.

10.Open your eyes.

Conscious deep breathing is indeed a powerful tool for health and well-being. It has the potential to help you maximize your productivity, activate your best health, and bulletproof your serenity in this age of overwhelming complexity. So, find a safe space to remove your mask, and start breathing with awareness for better health and peace of mind. With consistency and dedication, this simple practice will clear the foggy mind enough to inspire clarity to see opportunity in adversity.

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