How our emotions and breath work together

By Melanie Kiss

emotions and breath - controlling emotions

We are all emotional beings. Breathing is a natural part of our unique physiology.  How are emotions tied to the breath? Well, let’s take a closer look.

Breathing is something we don’t even think about. It happens naturally because our body’s autonomic nervous system controls it. But the beauty in all of this is we have the ability to voluntarily control it through mindful breathing.

As for our emotions, we can feel happy, sad, angry, joyful, excited and the list goes on. Some of us can feel more intensely than others, but we all have positively and negatively charged emotions.  Our emotions usually stem from our thoughts and the way we view the world. The judgements we place on a situation, place or person. For example, your loved one caressing you makes you think of how wonderful it is and it brings about a feeling of joy. However if a person you do not wish to be hugged by hugs you, you feel a sense of resistance or even anger. Depending on your outlook and thoughts about it, you create a feeling.

Our beliefs seem to play a big role in this. If we have held on to negative beliefs about a certain place from something that happened in the past, then we may feel uncomfortable or even sad being in that place or even just thinking about it. So now that we understand how our thoughts create our feelings, we can also become aware of our thoughts by how we are feeling. Sometimes we feel unhappy and sad and not even realize that it stemmed from our thoughts. Bringing awareness into your even day life can be challenging especially when we have 60,000 thoughts on average per day.

Breathing can be hugely affected by our emotions. When we are calm, relaxed and content, our breathing reflects that and becomes slow and deeper. When we are angry and stressed, our breath becomes rapid and short, mainly using the upper portion of our chest. Since we can control our breathing to some degree we can also control our emotions.

Some of us are in a constant state of stress, not realizing that our breathing has become a reflection of our state of mind. Some say that most of us have forgotten how to breathe. With mindful breathing techniques we can create peace and calmness in a state of chaos. Does it work in the snap of a finger? Take it from me when I say, NO!

During difficult times, our emotions can be super overwhelming. We get tangled in the way we feel and are driven by emotions and not logic. If we are able to catch our negative thinking before they create those not-so-cozy feelings, then we have mainly solved the problem. Realizing that we have a negative thought, can shed some light on the darkness that is about to explode into an emotion, that right there is being mindful, conscious.

If we attach ourselves to the negative thought and dive head first into it, then our emotions begin to build and that can be a little more difficult to stop. But that’s where mindful breathing can really help. Something as simple as deep belly breathing during a stressful scenario can really bring some peace into the body. As I mentioned earlier that when you are calm and at peace you’re breathing becomes deeper and slower. If you slow your breathing down and focus on truly lengthening each breath for a few minutes, you can really help bring your body back to a calmer state. Your emotions affect your breath and vice versa.

A simple deep breathing exercise is to find a quiet place, one time all I could find was a bathroom stall, but it worked. Close your eyes and take deep inhalations and exhalations. It helps when I count, such as inhale-1-2-3-4-5 and exhale 1-2-3-4-5.

Continuing to do this while focusing on your counts, will help you detach from your thoughts and eventually your emotions, bringing you back to the present moment.