The act of breathing is so essential to life but we mostly take it for granted. It is the first thing we do at birth and it will be our final act upon death. Breathing is a vital part of us. At times when we are caught up in our daily toils and troubles, remembering the importance and simplistic beauty of breathing can help bring us back to a sense of appreciation of ourselves and our existence.

Breathing involves inhaling and exhaling and the entire process is interdependent. Breathing is our primary method of moving waste out of our bodies. When we exhale, we expel carbon dioxide along with other gaseous toxins from our body. This is followed by an intake of air for the oxygen that we need to survive. Plants in turn also breathe, this time they take in the carbon dioxide we remove from our bodies and expel precious oxygen. This symbiotic relationship brings to point not only the importance of breathing for our survival but also our shared interdependence with our environment.

For the most part, our breathing is an unconscious automatic response. Take note however that for all vital systems of the human body, respiration is the only system that can easily be consciously controlled. We can choose to hold our breath or breathe slowly and deeply. Controlled breathing can be useful, not just to catch our breath when we are tired, but it can also help us relax, refocus and be grounded in the present.

Breathing Towards Self-Correction

In engineering there is a term known as feedback loops which is basically a way of controlling a system internally by providing information about the output back into the system. This is usually used in fail-safe systems allowing a machine to make adjustments if it receives a signal indicating that it is about to fail. A thermostat can be considered a basic feedback loop device. By informing the temperature regulating unit (i.e. air conditioner or refrigerator) that it has reached a specific temperature, the system can then take appropriate action; either raise or lower the temperature.
As well-engineered organisms, we also have feedback loops in place which we can use for changing behavior or controlling our feelings. One such feedback loop is smiling. We know that we smile because we feel good but smiling by itself can also help us feel better. Even if we feel down and out, if we see a friend smile we somehow react and start smiling ourselves.
We are often affected by external factors and circumstances beyond our control. What remains a fact, and we should always remember this, is that we can always take control of our body. The next time you’re in a bad situation, pull your lips wide and start smiling. It may start out a bit contrived but soon enough you will start to feel noticeably better. Your body will start to respond to your controlled smile and will allow you to feel happy, or at least relaxed, despite the situation.

Another built-in feedback loop you can use is breathing. Our manner of breathing shows the state we are in – we breathe fast when we are nervous or agitated, we breathe in moderation when we feel a sense of satisfaction. In the same way that we can force a smile to make us feel better, we can also control our breathing to help us take control of how we feel and ultimately how we react to the situation. Controlled breathing is integral in a majority of meditation activities, which is also recommended as a corrective remedy for de-stressing and anger management. This is also helpful for athletes to perform better at their chosen sport.

Breathing And Feeling Alive

Make a conscious effort to breathe deep and slow. Let your diaphragm and belly expand as you breathe deeply. Fill in your lungs at full capacity. Control your breathing with a relaxed pace. Closing your eyes and focusing on the action of inhaling and exhaling can help you in really taking charge of this respiratory activity. In a few moments, you will feel relaxed, calm, and confident; perhaps even slightly joyful or at the very least, at peace.

By being conscious about the experience of breathing we become more in tune with our very existence. The rise and fall of our shoulders as we breathe in and out is similar to our experiences where we are sometimes down and out, but there are also times of elation and satisfaction. Ultimately, it is all about the experience of being alive.

Author's Bio: 

Dr Ken Onu is the CEO and founder of Attract Freedom. A growing community of like minded persons with the sole purpose of empowering each other to personal and financial freedom. An Ophthalmologist by profession, he helps people SEE beyond their veil to eradicate inner blindness-Possibility blindness™. He is a keen speaker, coach, communicator, entrepreneur and author. Learn more at and