Mozart: Canzonetta Sull’aria – YouTube song 🎵
Relaxing songs list – website
How to use 4-7-8 breathing for anxiety – website
Diaphragmatic Breathing – Short youtube video to quickly learn how to breathe most effectively
(Content/possible trigger warning ⚠️: In part of this post, I briefly & lightly mention BDSM, a kink, where people, with consent, may be t**d up, usually in a s*xual context. It’s nothing graphic that I explain but just mentioning something to do with breathing that I learned in a fiction book about BDSM, that helps with meditation. But anyone who has experienced trauma may be triggered even by non graphic things, even by seeing certain words so I may block some things out with *** It’s important to face triggers but only when ready as possible, not by suddenly seeing a post on the internet when not in the frame of mind. Also, some asexual people do not want to encounter anything that has anything to do with s*x even if they weren’t traumatized because it’s icky or repulsive to them[not prudes at all, just grossed out and/or tired of hearing about the s*x constantly when it’s not in someone’s nature to want/crave it].
I’ll put a warning before the mention of the BDSM so any trauma survivors or aces can skip it. And I will put the caution signs ⚠️ ⚠️ ⚠️ ⚠️ at the end so anyone who skips can see where it ends and continue reading.)
“The 4-7-8 breathing technique, also known as ‘relaxing breath,’ involves breathing in for 4 seconds, holding the breath for 7 seconds, and exhaling for 8 seconds.“
This is a very simple and powerful technique to stop anxiety in its tracks. Of course, it may not work for every single person but is effective for many, if not most. For me, it works instantly.
I haven’t been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and never struggled with general anxiety but I have suffered a six month long battle with debilitating health anxiety in 2019. And in 2015 I lost my close friend unexpectedly to a heart attack and after that have struggled with bouts of anxiety off and on and fear of others I know all of a sudden dying. Every now and again but not frequently, I have this terrible suffocating fear arise that someone I know will die soon or is dying right now or will suffer an illness. It’s something that comes and goes and even though it’s not constant or usually frequent, it is difficult to bear when it does occur. It can feel like it will never end and like I am the only one in the world suffering it. I have also struggled with crippling claustrophobia, which I have conquered on my own as I frequently must get on elevators for work. It was important for me to heal it.
So while I don’t have anxiety as badly or frequently as some people and don’t currently have a disorder, I know what it’s like to be plagued by anxiety sometimes. I believe my experience with health anxiety in 2019 would have been diagnosed as a fullblown disorder if I would have asked for help. It takes extreme strength and courage to battle anxiety. It’s a display of strength and courage to live with anxiety, NOT a sign of weakness or cowardice. People with anxiety are forced to be stronger than people without anxiety have to be, yet often feel we are weak and cowardly if we are anxious and fearful. There is no way we would be surviving it each second if we were weak minded. It takes emotional and physical strength to endure. To me, it’s worse than depression and I have suffered severe depression off and on for years. It’s difficult to imagine the strength of anxiety survivors who live with it regularly. Just six months for me was nearly unbearable.
My anxiety when it arises, more often than not, manifests as physical sensations and emotions as opposed to thoughts. Because of this, mine may be easier to calm down when it does arise than if I had deeply rooted fears and thoughts.
My heart pounds, nearly out of my chest, my breathing becomes shallow, my head spins, and bolts of fear run up and down my body, heart palpitations, and I have this terrible feeling that someone I know is dying, near death, or will soon die. Sometimes it lasts off and on for days, usually just off and on in one day. It tends to be worse at night and early mornings when it is occurring. And sometimes my health anxiety for my own self tries to return and convince me I have cancer. It’s absolutely frightening and life destroying when it’s constant like in 2019. I developed uncontrollable rituals each day, incessantly checking for lumps and marks on my body. I stayed on Google day and night reading about diseases and looking at pictures of diseases I was convinced I had. It was a fullblown obsession. How I survived those six months, I still don’t know.
When it’s out of control, it’s very difficult to meditate or just breathe so best to catch it when a symptom or episode is just beginning, or beginning to worsen, or not quite as intense. When my heart begins to pound or those bolts of fear ripple up and down my body, I do the 4-7-8 breathing technique and instantly my body calms. It’s not a cure, of course, but a good way to get instant relief and if it becomes a habit, it may just be a “cure” for some or at least make anxiety less frequent. It’s just it can be difficult finding the motivation or time to make it an ingrained habit. Or for many, their anxiety is just generally too severe to be able to sit there and breathe, mindfully.
But for me, it does work. When I’m out walking, if I am hit with fear or panic or anxious sensations, I do that breathing technique. Also, I haven’t made it a habit yet but at night/morning, I listen to a peaceful song/music and do the breathing technique even if I am not currently anxious. It’s very pleasant and can prevent anxiety. It instills in me a peaceful sensation all throughout.
One thing to be mindful of is if we meditate only infrequently or haven’t in a while, meditation may bring out more fear or anxiety or anger or sadness or grief…, because we have emotions and responses to everyday life and certain experiences already inside us and often pent up. Meditation will loosen it up and bring it all to the surface/consciousness like a plunger loosening all the contents in a sink or toilet. Lol It may make it seem like meditation or mindfulness is a bad thing or just not for us. But could just be we have to meditate more often. Everyday we experience things and our emotional reactions no matter how serious or not, build up. We get cut off in traffic, we drop things, we spill coffee on our white shirt, we see someone almost get hit by a car running across a street, we hear a loud noise that startles us, our coworker says something that ticks us off, we may remember someone dying years ago and feel current distress or sadness about it…all of our emotional reactions to these things stay inside us even if we quickly forget them. Then meditation brings it all out later and we may feel the stress, anger, fear for a while after a meditation session but it’s actually a good thing as all those emotions need a release.
As I mention when promoting breathing exercises, I suggest people who are physically able to, as long as it’s safe for them, do the shoulder blade exercise at the beginning to open up the airways and make breathing easier and deeper.
⚠️ ⚠️ ⚠️ Content Warning ⚠️⚠️ ⚠️
Some years ago, I read a fiction legal thriller series of books by Stephen Penner, for fun and learned an invaluable life tip. In one of the books, the medical examiner, character, Dr. Kat Anderson, explained that putting our arms back like that opens the chest cavity and helps us breathe better. In the book a woman was accidentally killed by her man while they were engaging in BDSM, a kink where they tie each other up and stuff; it looks and sounds violent but is usually safe and is one hundred percent consensual.
The characters were hooking up and he tied her arms back with her consent and he accidentally killed her. The doctor explained how she would have died sooner if not for her arms being tied back like that. The reason she died is he choked her (with her consent) and since her arms were back, she was breathing better so lived longer. I realized I can do that before meditations to make me breathe more deeply and just randomly throughout the day and then a professional fitness trainer told me the same thing, to do that all day, everyday. It aids in our breathing.
⚠️ ⚠️ ⚠️END⚠️ ⚠️ ⚠️
So put your arms straight at your sides then lift them to your waist, bend the elbows and squeeze shoulder blades for five seconds then loosen for a few seconds then do the same again however many sessions you see fit. Don’t shrug your shoulders while squeezing the shoulder blades. That isn’t necessary and may not be safe or effective.
This is only for people who can safely do this, don’t have pain or physical limitations, have arms…I understand this isn’t for everyone. I think the average person can do this though. Remember for counting seconds, 1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi, 3 Mississippi….I learned this is elementary school just saying one two three is less than a second so put the Mississippi after and it’s closest to one second. 😁
This song in the YouTube video above, Mozart: Canzonetta Sull’aria, is one of my favorite ones to meditate to. It’s beautiful and peaceful and scientifically shown to be one of the most relaxing songs on Earth. Weightless – ten hour version or Weightless – eight minutes version is the actual most relaxing (scientifically proven) and I love that one too. But this one is a bit too relaxing and can make us sleepy or go to sleep. I’m not always trying to go to sleep after meditation. Sometimes I’m meditating in the morning or afternoon or out walking or before work and Weightless isn’t a good idea those occasions. But it’s great right before sleep or if it doesn’t matter if we are sleepy.
When breathing, only the abdomen should move, not the chest. And breathing should always be inhaling through the nose with the stomach expanding and exhaling through the mouth with stomach deflating. It’s called diaphragmatic breathing and does matter. It’s the proper way to breathe, the most healthy, but most of us don’t breathe that way and our breathing is shallow. Diaphragmatic breathing is best for coping with pain and anxiety and just the healthiest in all of life.
Remember to breathe as slowly and deeply as possible, especially breathing out. It takes practice. And remember to gently bring your wandering mind back to breath. That takes practice too. Everyone without exception will have a wandering mind, even those experienced with meditation. It’s just the nature of the human mind. It’s not a flaw or something worthy of self criticism. It’s just important to catch it as best as we can because before we know it our allotted meditation time is over and was taken up daydreaming of our lunch later, or some task at work tomorrow, or stores we have to visit. Again, not a flaw! And not an indication that we aren’t good at mediation. It happens to everyone who tries to meditate or do breathwork. It’s just important to get into the habit of catching it as much as possible for mediation to be most effective.
Anyone who tries meditation or breathwork is successful. Just taking that step to better our own self and be better for those around us is an accomplishment.
Hugs, love, inner peace, and light to all! 💗