On Sunday morning I was quietly drinking coffee and doing those Sunday things, my wife was at the gym and the kids fast asleep (it still being a few minutes before noon). Suddenly I was shocked when my youngest almost fell down the stairs and wobbled into the kitchen.
She was in great distress, very pale, sobbing, breathing very rapidly and incoherently trying to say something.
“I can’t breathe” or was it “I can’t see” ?
After doing what all Dad’s would do – wishing Mum was there – I started asking her to calm down, but that had no impact. So I started breathing very noticeably, a little faster than usual and very calmly asked her to copy me. As she did I slowed it down gradually until she was more or less in control.
Now she could tell me that she had felt a bit odd on getting up, gone for a shower and then had felt light headed, lost her vision and started to fall over. At this she had freaked out. I’m no medic but I figured she’d fainted and just needed to calm down.
I asked her to visualise the outline of a square and put a bright dot in the left hand corner, the dot moved along each side with each in and out breath. In…along the top, out…down the side, in…along the bottom, and so on. With her I gradually slowed the dot and with it her breathing until she was very relaxed (in fact she was in a light trance).
Afterwards she said she felt very relaxed, if still a little light headed.
Whilst not exactly rocket science it does demonstrate how powerful our breathing is on our emotions. By focussing on our breathing and slowing it down we naturally calm down and get more oxygen to help us think. Worth remembering next time you are feeling a little stressed before that meeting or presentation.
Breathe, breathe in the air
Don’t be afraid to care
Leave but don’t leave me
Look around and chose your own ground
For long you live and high you fly
And smiles you’ll give and tears you’ll cry
And all you touch and all you see
Is all your life will ever be
PS – my wife, a trained first aider, has now told me what I should really do if anyone faints. The breathing was good but I should have laid her down with legs up a little.