Our emotional states are mirrored through our breathing. E.g. an agitated mental state would likely create choppy and unsteady breathing patterns and vice versa.
A recent study published in the Journal of Neuroscience suggested that breathing rhythms are directly related to fear, memory and other emotions. One very notable aspect of this study was that emotions were impacted only through nasal breathing but were not impacted greatly through mouth breathing. Another study published in Neuroimage indicated that mindful attention to breath regulates emotions through integrating the communication between the thinking part of the brain (cortex) and the fear and threat perception center of the brain (amygdala).
If mind and body are very amenable to breathing patterns, then why not use breath as a tool to intervene in undesirable mental states such as excessive fear, anxiety, etc. Try the following when caught in a storm of strong emotions:
- Count how long your normal in-breath is (1,2,3 or more counts)
- Make your outer breath slightly longer by adding 1 or more counts to it (you should be not gasping for air. So keep your breath easy and comfortable)
- Try breathing this way for few minutes.
- Take rest in-between if you feel out of breath.
If it worked for you, please share it with others.