When fear triggers the fight-flight-freeze response, one of the first things the body does is restrict breathing. While this automatic and unconscious response is vital in real life or death situations, most of the time it’s unnecessary as you’re not anxious about actual imminent danger. Breathing is one of the few controllable bodily functions, and recognizing its role in the fear response is essential to managing the mind-body relationship and your experience of life.
The most basic foundation of meditative practice is repetition of “breath in… breath out…” The deliberate focus on movement of the life force of breath is the simplest and most powerful way to lovingly bring the chattering, wandering mind back to the present moment.
Slow, deep breathing into and out of the lower lungs (which you’ll know is happening if your abdomen is extending and contracting) is the most effective way to alleviate anxiety and distress.
What’s more, this mindfulness practice used at any time—fearful, joyous, or otherwise—guarantees reorientation to the present as a means for the fullest experience of life.
breath in …
breath out …
no matter what, this is always the way.