Stress has been a constant problem for me. I’m struggling to handle it, but I’m getting better. If I could jump in a time machine and travel back in time, I would tell my younger self to relax and learn to breathe.
I am an independent digital marketing consultant. One of my clients is the Jhamtse Gatsal children’s community, located in a remote region of northeast India. I learned a lot about Buddhist philosophy and essential life lessons from community and children.
Founder and former monk Lobsang Phuntsok, 50, was left for dead under leaves at birth. At the age of 7, Lobsang’s grandparents sent him to Sera Je Monastery in southern India to study to become a Buddhist monk. After becoming a monk, Lobsang returned to his birthplace in northeast India to build Jhamtse Gatsal and welcome other “unwanted children of the universe”.
Lobsang’s life is dedicated to helping children heal from childhood trauma similar to his. The community was the subject of the Emmy-winning documentary “Tashi and the Monk.”
At Jhamtse Gatsal, children begin and end the day by meditating and practicing deep, slow breathing. Kindergarten classes begin with a five-minute meditation session.
As Lobsang explained to me via Zoom call: “Teaching children to take care of their minds is as important as teaching them to take care of their bodies. Introducing children to breathing and meditation practices during their early development can help them learn to quiet their minds and use healthy coping mechanisms in their lives.
“Getting kids to sit still is a challenge at first,” he continued. “It’s a great achievement for the children to sit down. But once children learn the practice of breathwork and meditation, they enjoy and look forward to it being part of their day. It helps children relax and manage their stress.
learn to breathe
“The only thing that stays with you from the moment you are born until the moment you die is your breath,” Jay Shetty wrote in his New York Times bestselling book “Think Like a Monk”.
Think about it. Has anyone ever taught you to breathe? Imagine if schools all over the world taught breathing in childhood like they do in Jhamtse Gatsal. Deep breathing to center yourself in chaotic times can aid relaxation.
When I receive bad news or am stressed, I notice that my breathing becomes shorter and shallower. My muscles tense and my jaw clenches. When I consciously tell myself to breathe deeply, my body relaxes. My jaw is loosening and I can feel the difference all over my body. I react better to the current situation.
When I infuse drugs for hemophilia B and von Willebrand’s disease, I breathe deeply before sticking myself with the needle. I remember to breathe deeply throughout the infusion.
The next time you’re stressed, breathe deeply and slowly and see if you notice a difference in your body. I hope you find that learning to breathe helps you deal with stressful situations.
April is National Stress Awareness Month, a great time to learn better stress management techniques. How do you handle stress? Please share what works for you in the comments below.
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