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The Breath of Life: Grounding and Regulation through Breathing Techniques

Welcome back to our empowering blog series, "Unlocking the Healing Power of Trauma-Informed Tapping Techniques"! In this fifth installment, we delve into the transformative power of breathing techniques for grounding and regulation. Understanding and harnessing the breath can be a cornerstone in trauma recovery, offering a simple yet profound tool for calming the nervous system and promoting emotional well-being.

Prana, Life is Breath
Breath is Your Vital Life Force

Importance of Breathing Techniques in Trauma Recovery

Breathing is an essential life force, directly linked to our physical, emotional, and mental states. For trauma survivors, breathing techniques offer a way to regain control over the body’s automatic responses. When trauma disrupts the nervous system, it can lead to dysregulation, manifesting as anxiety, hypervigilance, or dissociation. Controlled breathing can counteract these effects by activating the parasympathetic nervous system, promoting a state of calm and relaxation.

Recent studies have shown that intentional breathwork can reduce symptoms of PTSD and anxiety. A 2021 study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology found that participants who practiced deep breathing exercises experienced significant reductions in stress and anxiety levels. This research underscores the vital role of breath-work in facilitating trauma recovery and enhancing overall well-being.

Simple Breathing Exercises for Calming the Nervous System

Here are some simple yet effective breathing exercises that can help calm the nervous system:

  1. Diaphragmatic Breathing (Belly Breathing):

  • Sit or lie down in a comfortable position.

  • Place one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen.

  • Inhale deeply through your nose, allowing your abdomen to rise while keeping your chest relatively still.

  • Exhale slowly through your mouth, feeling your abdomen fall.

  • Repeat for 5-10 minutes, focusing on the rise and fall of your abdomen.

  1. 4-7-8 Breathing:

  • Sit comfortably with your back straight.

  • Inhale quietly through your nose for a count of 4.

  • Hold your breath for a count of 7.

  • Exhale completely through your mouth for a count of 8.

  • Repeat the cycle for 4 breaths, gradually increasing as you become more comfortable.

  1. Box Breathing:

  • Sit upright in a comfortable chair with your feet flat on the floor.

  • Inhale deeply through your nose for a count of 4.

  • Hold your breath for a count of 4.

  • Exhale slowly through your mouth for a count of 4.

  • Hold your breath again for a count of 4.

  • Repeat the cycle for 5 minutes.

Incorporating Breathwork into Daily Self-Care Routines

Incorporating breathwork into your daily self-care routine can significantly enhance your emotional and physical well-being. Here are some tips for making breathwork a regular part of your day:

  • Morning Routine: Start your day with 5-10 minutes of deep breathing exercises to set a calm and focused tone.

  • Midday Break: Use breathwork to reset and recharge during lunch or break times, especially if you feel stressed or overwhelmed.

  • Evening Wind-Down: Practice breathing exercises before bed to release the day's tension and promote restful sleep.

Breath Awareness Practices for Therapists and Clients

For therapists and clients alike, cultivating breath awareness can be a powerful tool in the therapeutic process. Therapists can guide clients through breathing exercises during sessions to help them ground and regulate their emotions. Here are some practices to incorporate:

  1. Mindful Breathing: Encourage clients to focus on their breath at the beginning and end of each session to center themselves and integrate their therapeutic work.

  2. Co-Regulation: Practice breathing exercises together, creating a sense of connection and safety within the therapeutic relationship.

  3. Breath Journaling: Have clients keep a breath journal, noting how different breathing techniques impact their mood and emotional state.

Practice: Calming Breath Exercise for Daily Use

To experience the benefits of breathwork firsthand, try this calming breath exercise:

  1. Find a Comfortable Position: Sit or lie down in a quiet space.

  2. Close Your Eyes: Take a few moments to settle into your body and notice your natural breath.

  3. Begin Deep Breathing: Inhale deeply through your nose for a count of 4, feeling your abdomen rise.

  4. Hold Your Breath: Hold the breath gently for a count of 4.

  5. Exhale Slowly: Exhale through your mouth for a count of 6, feeling your abdomen fall.

  6. Pause: Hold the breath out for a count of 2 before beginning the next inhale.

  7. Repeat: Continue this cycle for 5-10 minutes, focusing on the rhythm of your breath.

By integrating these practices into your daily routine, you can harness the power of your breath to promote grounding, regulation, and overall well-being. Stay tuned for our next installment, where we'll explore the benefits of movement and somatic-based techniques for trauma healing. Together, let's continue to unlock the healing power within and embrace the journey of empowerment and healing.

With love, AGLOW

Stacy Ruse, LPC, RYI, EMDR & IFS Consultant

Stacy Ruse, LPC, is an esteemed Evergreen EMDR & IFS-Institute Consultant, and founder of Aglow Counseling. Stacy teaches a therapeutic style that is characterized by the art of EMDR & IFS therapies with a transpersonal twist, transcending the conventional boundaries of traditional therapy. Her holistic approach acknowledges the interconnectedness of mind, body, and spirit allowing individuals to tap into their innate resilience and ignite their personal transformation journey. As a trauma expert, national and international trainer, and clinical consultant, Stacy's approach is deeply rooted in trauma-informed methodologies.


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