Lawrence E. Kincade, Ph.D., LCSW > The Power of Breathing


Rhythm and pulsation are intrinsic to all life, from the beating of bacterial cilia to the alternating cycles of photosynthesis and respiration in plants, to the circadian rhythms of our own body and its biochemistry. These rhythms of the living world are imbedded within the larger rhythms of the planet itself, the ebb and flow of the tides, the carbon, nitrogen and oxygen cycles of the biosphere, the cycles of night and day, the seasons.  Our very bodies are joined with the planet in a continual rhythmic exchange as matter and energy flow back and forth between our bodies and what we call "the environment."

...One way this exchange of matter and energy happens is through breathing.  With each breath, we exchange carbon dioxide molecules from inside our bodies for oxygen molecules from the surrounding air......We have some measure of conscious control over our breathing.  If we choose to, we can hold our breath for a short while or voluntarily control the rate and depth at which we breathe.

But slow or rapid, controlled or left to itself, the breath keeps going, day and night, year in, year out, through all the experiences and stages of life we traverse.  Usually we take it completely for granted.  We don't pay any attention to our breathing unless something happens to prevent us from breathing normally.  That is unless we start to meditate (or engage in clinical hypnosis with a trained facilitator or practice self-hypnosis - Dr. Kincade).......

Some people have trouble breathing when they get anxious.  They start to breathe faster and faster and more shallowly and wind up hyperventilaing, that is, not getting enough oxygen and blowing off too much carbon dioxide.  This brings on feelings of light-headedness, often accompanied by a feeling of pressure in the chest.  When, all of a sudden, you feel like you are not getting in enough air, an overwhelming wave of fear or panic can arise.  When you panic, of course, it just makes it that much harder to get control of your breathing.

People who experience episodes of hyperventilation can think they are having a heart attack and are going to die.  Actually the worse that can happen is that they will black out, which is dangerous enough.  But passing out is the body's way of breaking the vicious cycle, which begins when you feel unable to breathe, which leads to panic, which leads to a stronger feeling of being unable to breathe.  When you pass out, your breathing returns to normal on its own.  If you are unable to get your breathing under control, your body will do it for you, if necessary by short-circuiting your consciousness for a while.....