sense of self

Building a Strong Sense of Self. Lesson #1: Breathe

I know you can do it; you’re doing it right now. We all breathe. We have to.

If you are reading this post, you’ve probably read other articles about breathing. There are countless articles, books and videos about the subject. Something as simple as breathing has somehow become something that seems complex and difficult.

Breathing is the single most important thing we do in our lives

Let’s get down to it. If you are alive enough to read this, you are doing pretty well with your breathing. There are ways to maximise the potential of the breath – and when you maximise the potential of the breath, you maximise the potential of your life.

Which is kind-of what I’m talking about here.

Developing your sense of self by bringing your focus back to the most simple and life-giving thing we do.

Breathe.

As you read this article, are you aware of your breath? See if you can be. If you can read and notice that you are breathing at the same time, then reading has become a bit of a mini-meditation for you. You are mindful of what you are doing. You are in your body. You are doing this breathing thing well.

So, what does breathing have to do with developing a strong sense of self?

Having a strong sense of self is about being self-aware.

When you are aware of your breathing, you are aware of your body. When you are aware of your body you are aware of yourself inside your body.  You then become more aware of how your body feels – and therefore how you feel.

You get to know yourself better because you are noticing your breath and how it animates your body.

And the more you do all of this, the stronger your sense of self becomes.

What type of breath is best?

I’ll break this down into three types of breath.

  1. Auto-pilot – Your body knows how to do it – and so it breathes, because, let’s face it – if it didn’t you would die.
  2. Conscious – You consciously choose how to breathe and with awareness you direct yourself to, say, take a deep breath. This is usually deeply nourishing, calming and (in my case) short-lived.
  3. Mindful – You are aware of your breathing, but you do not direct the breath to do anything other than what it needs to do. When you become mindful of the breath – and simply allow it to be the way that it is, whether shallow, deep or whatever – you accept yourself on many levels. You might notice, because of this acceptance, that the breath naturally changes to become deeper or more relaxed.

I breathe in all of these ways. Mostly I breathe on auto-pilot, with the odd conscious ‘three deep breaths’ when I notice I am tired or stressed.

Last year, I began mindful breathing (as often as I can, but mostly during meditation, about 20 minutes a day).  This has worked wonders for my sense of self. I feel more accepting of who I am and this allows me to move forward much faster than I was able in the past.

At the end of the day, the important thing is that you breathe in a way that feels good to you, notice your breath when you are able and take conscious breaths when you need to. Your sense of self will naturally grow and develop at a pace you can handle as you continue each moment to breathe life into yourself.