Just breathe

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A few years ago, I was getting ready to host a party at my house, and suddenly it got harder for me to breathe. At the time I thought it was the fumes of the Kerosene heater (hard to believe but this is still the norm in northern Japan), and I actually went to the doctor to see what was wrong. Turns out I was having a panic attack.

Over the years, these have become more common. I put it down to being overwhelmed, and if I were to explain the details each time you would probably agree that it would be a natural response. I try to do everything I can to avoid these, like meditation, cold showers, and going out into nature to calm down if things are getting a bit hectic. But they still happen, and I'm starting to do a better job at finding the triggers. I wrote a post a few weeks back about being the victim of misdirected anger, that was one such occasion.

Then today, I had to explain my parents' situation to someone for a legal matter, and before I knew it, my throat started to close up (at least that's what it felt like, it didn't actually). Such simple things can have such a profound impact, you have to be very conscious that they are happening, and know what to do in that situation.

But, as with any stressing event, there's one failsafe way to get over it. Focus on your breath. It's that simple. Sit down comfortably and consciously take the time to do ten big breaths. If that doesn't work, keep trying to do slow breathing, or try something that makes you focus on your breath, like swimming or running, or even just walking.

I think it's really cool how breathing is something that is simultaneously a conscious and unconscious thing. This means that focusing on your breathing is one way we can manipulate our unconscious mind. So the next time you're feeling stressed or overwhelmed, just breathe.

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Sakata City, Yamagata, Japan 

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