The body and mind are one. Throughout history human beings have discovered one of the most basic and straight forward ways to become calm and keep calm is using the breath! Indeed, the act of breathing has become the foundation of much of the meditation practices around the world. This simple act is something that you mostly take for granted and never think about (unless you have to). However, by choosing to focus on your breath you quickly discover the power of doing this to establish a calmness. It’s not rocket science and thank heaven it isn’t. The most universal way all human beings can become calm is free and available to everyone, no matter what age, or no matter how anxious they are. Essentially, focusing on your breath in any way will help you. It doesn’t have to be done in any special way. However, it can be useful to focus in a way that aids concentration, takes your mind off your worries and also has the desired physiological effect of inducing relaxation. Human Givens therapists always recommend the most straightforward and yet highly effective method of so called 7/11 breathing. It doesn’t take long to get the hang of it and you can do it anywhere, any time and it is highly effective.
Breathing regularly from the abdomen instead of the upper chest, and by making the out breath longer than the in breath, triggers a deeply relaxed state, usually after 10 minutes or so. We call this “7/11 breathing”. Why? Because you breathe in whilst counting (in your head) to 7 and breathe the same amount of breath out more slowly whilst counting to 11. You do this in a gentle manner repeatedly for 10 to 15 minutes, and this will trigger deeply relaxed feelings within us.
What is 7/11 Breathing Used For?
It can be used to calm Panic/Anxiety attacks, Hyperventilation, to relax you at the end of a stressful day, to get you ready for a busy day, to manage anger outbursts and to aid concentration before an exam/interview. In fact, almost any state which leads to high emotional arousal.
How Does It Work?
It works on the body’s autonomic nervous system. When you breathe in, receptors are stimulated to quicken your heartbeat, increase breathing rate and increase adrenaline production. Similarly, when you breathe out receptors are stimulated to slow your heartbeat, reduce your breathing rate and decrease adrenaline production. In layman’s terms, when you breathe in you get excited and when you breathe out you relax.
It needs a degree of concentration to work, so it helps you take your mind off what was worrying you in the first place. Because it relaxes you, it also gives access to the rational thinking part of the brain that gets shut down in stressful situations, allowing you to think your way around problems.
Is It Difficult To Learn?
NO! Anyone who can breathe and count to 11 can learn it.
Here’s how… …
It helps, when you are first practicing, to sit in front of a mirror so that you can see your progress.
Sit in a chair with your shoulders relaxed and your hands folded gently over your tummy.
If possible, breathe in and out through your nose. In for a count of 7 and out for a count of 11 (if you find it too hard to breathe out 11, start off with 3/6 and work up to 7/11. The important thing here is to breathe out longer than you breathe in).
If you are doing it correctly your shoulders will remain still and your tummy will get bigger and smaller as you breathe (called belly or diaphragmatic breathing). If you sit in front of a mirror you can keep an eye on your shoulders and tummy.
Once you can keep your shoulders still and relaxed without effort it is a good idea to close your eyes and try to picture the numbers in your mind’s eye to help you concentrate completely on your breathing
Practice this technique morning and evening for 5-10 minutes to give you an essential tool to cope with today’s hectic pace of life. You can search 7/11 on YouTube for video training.