Full Breathing

There are two habits or intentions that I consider to be essential to maximizing the fullness of my life. These two practices (not in any particular order) are 1) the way that I breathe; what I will refer to as full breathing and 2) stopping at times during the day. This writing is about full breathing.
Full breathing involves three parts of your body being active on inhalation and on exhalation. These three parts are your abdomen/belly, your lower rib cage, and your chest.
I'm first going to write about the different steps to have a full breath that starts in your abdomen. Then I'm going to write about the advantages of full breathing.
Very Important: This way of full breathing is not necessarily done with each breath all day long. Though, if that is done, your day would probably be very different. Full breathing is different from deep breathing. I'll cover this difference later.

Exhalation – Through Your Mouth Without Any Effort Or Thought
During exhalation you simply relax and let the air come out through your mouth.
When the air comes out through your mouth, it's a very easy, full and relaxed exhalation compared to the air leaving your body through your more narrow nose. You can exhale through your nose; if you prefer.
Let your body exhale without thinking if your abdomen moves first or if your chest moves first. Simply relax during exhalation and let your body exhale through your mouth. You may have a feeling of release that, at times, occurs with this relaxed exhalation.
This is all that you need to know about exhalation. Relax, let your body do it and let the air come out through your mouth. Now comes the much more involved part – inhalation.

Inhale Through Your Nose
There are many reasons why to inhale through your nose. Your nose and sinuses help to heat up the air (this is not greatly needed in Southern California). Your nose has hairs that help to act as filters. The air coming in through your nose and sinuses helps awaken a higher energy in you than if you breathe in through your mouth.
An experiment: Take ten breaths in and out through your mouth. Let these breaths come in and out without doing other than making sure that all of your breathing is through your mouth. Get a feeling of what is happening. Then take ten breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth.
You may notice that when you breathe in through your nose (compared to breathing in through your mouth) that you involve your whole self in breathing. And when you breathe in and out through your mouth you're involving less of yourself when you breathe this way.

Step One (Of Three) With Inhalation During Full Breathing
As you breathe in through your nose, your abdomen goes out. On exhalation, your abdomen goes in. The instructions so far on inhalation into your abdomen are simple. Now comes more detail to your abdomen on inhalation.
Your abdomen goes out when you inhale because your diaphragm is pushing down. This is similar to pushing your fist into bread dough. When you push your fist into the bread dough, the pressure of your fist flattens the bread dough and makes it spread out.
This pushing down by the diaphragm massages the organs in your abdomen by pushing down on your organs. This movement massage is extremely healthful for the organs; and was meant to happen to help the organs stay healthy. When you don't move your abdomen on inhalation, your organs stay in place; they are stagnant rather than moving. Having your organs be stagnant compared to being moved/massaged for decades makes for less healthy organs. These organs are your liver, gallbladder, stomach, pancreas, kidneys, adrenal glands, small intestine, large intestine, bladder, and for women, their uterus and ovaries.
Make sure you feel the expansion of your abdomen all the way down to your pubic bones. This lowest part of your abdomen won't expand as much as the upper part. It's important that you bring the expansion/pressure all the way down to the pubic bones. And also have the abdomen expand out to both sides and also expand a little bit into your lower back.
This additional expansion down to your pubic bones, to the sides, and to the lower back will be incomplete when you first begin breathing this way. Everyone has tension in their abdomen; mostly in their intestines and in their psoas muscle. This tension will limit the amount of expansion in your abdomen when you inhale. Don't force the breath down to the pubic bones or out to the sides or into the low back. Put some attention to these areas expanding just a little more. As you inhale into your abdomen, over time, your abdomen will become softer and it will be able to expand much more easily to the front, down to the pubic bones, out to the sides, and into your lower back.

Step Two (Of Three) With Inhalation During Full Breathing
Step two is making sure that your lower rib cage expands during inhalation. Your inhaled breath begins in your abdomen. As your abdomen expands (and before it is done expanding) your lower ribs will begin to expand. Your lower rib cage is the area of your rib cage that is below your breast bone.
Take some time to feel your lower rib cage also moving/expanding as you breathe in. This is all you need to do at this stage with your lower rib cage. Later you may choose to add more detail to how your lower rib cage is expanding. Don't get too refined at this beginning stage. Keep it simple.
After you have brought in all three steps with inhalation you can have more attention and detail to how your lower rib cage is moving on inhalation. Is your lower rib cage expanding in the front? Only in the front? As your body opens and relaxes more you'll notice that your lower rib cage expands mostly in the front, though it also will expand some to the sides and lastly it'll expand a little bit into your back. This expansion in the front (easy to notice) and on the sides (somewhat easy to notice) and in the back (least easy to notice) happens all at once; like when your blow up a balloon – all of the balloon expands at the same time. Your lower rib cage is different from a balloon in that the balloon will expand equally in all directions and your lower rib cage doesn't expand equally in all directions.

Step Three (Of Three) With Inhalation During Full Breathing
Step three is when your chest expands during inhalation. The chest is where your breastbone is, and where your heart and lungs are.
When you inhale, first your abdomen expands. Then your lower rib cage expands and now your chest expands.
Your chest expanding is similar to your lower rib cage expanding. You may notice, at first, that your chest is expanding only in the front. This is okay. Keep it simple. As you become more comfortable with this way of breathing, you can have more attention to how your chest is expanding on inhalation. It is the same as your lower rib cage. Your chest primarily expands to the front, secondarily to the sides and least to the back. In the beginning, keep it simple. On inhalation have your abdomen go out, your lower rib cage expand, and your chest expand.
Your collarbones may move, but they do not raise up when your chest expands. Better said: If your collarbones move upward when you inhale, you're using your muscles incorrectly. If you expand your chest a lot, your collarbones may move forward a bit, but not upward.

Shallow Breathing, Full Breathing, and Deep Breathing
Unless you've paid attention to your breathing repeatedly through your life, the way that you breathe is very likely to be shallow (less volume than is healthful). Also your movement pattern in your abdomen, lower ribs and chest will be partial. Whenever you concentrate (even when reading these words) your breath is very likely to be shallow. When you have emotional or mental stress, your breathing is likely to be shallow. You will have shallow breathing many times during the day. This is a habit that your body knows very well.
During a full breath, all three parts move (your abdomen, lower ribs, and chest) out to the front, out to the sides and into your back. During a full breath this movement is not a lot, though there is movement in all three areas. These three areas move a lot only during deep breathing.
You will need to work on full breathing multiple times each day (in both full and deep breathing) to have a more full and unrestricted breathing pattern throughout the day. It will take effort (repeated attention over time) to have full and unrestricted breathing.
A full breath is different from a deep breath. A deep breath is an exaggeration of a full breath. Slow, deep breathing is very healthful, relaxing, centering and grounding to do.
Taking some deep breaths is a way to help your body more quickly attain a full and unrestricted pattern to breathing. You have tensions in each area (your abdomen, lower rib cage and chest) that will inhibit/stop your breathing from being full and unrestricted. Taking deep breaths into your abdomen, lower ribs, and chest will help those tense areas to relax. Eventually your unconscious breathing pattern may be full breathing rather than shallow breathing.

I've described only one way to breathe. There are many types of breaths that you can take. I find this way of breathing to be simple, full and life enhancing.
Breathing and stopping (at times) are two essential habits/intentions/practices that I know of to express who I truly am.
Your breath is your most important and needed food. It's said that the breath connects the Spirit and the body. Have this connection be strong and full. Breathe well and nourish both your body and your Spirit.
I had two major influences in coming to this way of full breathing. The first and most important influence was Charles (no website) and Jennica Mills also added a valuable contribution.

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