Author: Anne Andrews, Licensed Massage Therapist

How many of us spend the day just thinking about what comes next, or thinking about the past? We make endless lists of things to accomplish and don’t really pay attention to what is right in front of us. We are easily distracted by the thoughts and feelings that come up as a result of external events and we tend to override our internal signals, sensations and the wisdom of our own body. In general, we only pay attention to our bodies during intense physical experiences like pleasure, pain or discomfort. We are constantly doing and in a state of stress most of the time. You can reduce your stress levels simply by slowing down and being more present in the moment.

Being present is the ability to bring our awareness into the here and now. Our breath is one of the most powerful tools to practice being more present in the moment. Breathing can guide our attention, calm our emotions, and help clear our thoughts. Recent research also shows that we eliminate 70% of our metabolic wastes through the lungs and the other 30% through urine, sweat and the other stuff.

Though breathing is mostly run by our unconscious autopilot, when we assume the driver’s seat and consciously shift our breath we recalibrate our attention to the present moment. Breathing is intimately connected to our physical and emotional state. In other words when we change how we breathe we can change how we feel emotionally and physically.

One easy way to follow your breath is to begin by slowing down our breath, breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. As you inhale, enjoy the sensations of your ribs gently opening and expanding and your diaphragm opening down like an upside down umbrella. On the exhale, feel your ribs contract and the diaphragm pressing upward massaging your heart through the pericardial sac. Can you feel the synchronous dance of your diaphragm moving with each breath?

I have learned that we take 960 breaths an hour, 23,040 a day, 8,409,000 each year and approximately half a billion times in a lifetime. That means we have 20,000 opportunities every day to start fresh and be more present in our daily lives. With every inhale we can choose to invite what we want more of and with every exhale we can let go of something we no longer need. I encourage you to take a few minutes each day and incorporate conscious breathing into your daily life. The results can be feeling more relaxed, less pain, less toxic waste in your body, and being more energized and focused to go about your day.

Anne Andrews is a licensed massage therapist MA38362. She is also a certified Ortho-Bionomy® Practitioner and a Bones for Life® Trainer. She is a graduate from the Florida School of Massage and has been practicing since 2003. For more information you can visit, www.Society of Ortho-Bionomy® International , or