Some thoughts on breathing. . .
Have you ever noticed that when you pant really fast like a dog that your heart starts to race? That your body hairs raise up? That is your system pumping excessive adrenaline into your body, warning you of imminent danger.
What are we supposed to do with this adrenaline?
The adrenaline gives us mammals the energy to activate the 'fight or flight ' reflex. We need that energy to either climb the nearest tree or attack that Sabre tooth tiger head on. But what if there IS no saber tooth tiger? We turn that energy back on ourselves in the form of tension. What is the best way to dissipate tension in the body?
Now here comes the kicker!
Sometimes the body tries to get more oxygen by breathing through our non-existent gills.
"Our GILLS?!!!", you say. Yes, when we are especially tense, we raise our shoulders to try to open our gills that are directly activated by cranial nerve number 11.
Except we left our gills behind long ago when we crawled onto dry land. So, we keep raising our shoulders over and over in the vain hope that more oxygen will reach the body and help slow down the rate of release of adrenaline.
Now we are in an even bigger fix. Adrenaline is coursing through our body randomly firing nerve endings AND our shoulders have become earrings.
What to do?
Breathe deep, long, diaphragmatic breaths. Allow the belly to expand to make room for the internal organs to scootch out of the way as the diaphragm makes its excursion down into the abdominal cavity. Include your pelvic floor in the breath by allowing it also to expand and contract.
Notice that your heart rate is slowing down and a sense of calm is enveloping you. Notice that your shoulders can tentatively lower themselves back down towards your armpits. That is oxygen moving into your system to calm you down.