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Haig, Matt - Reasons to stay alive - 10 Relaxation and breathing



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Matt Haig - Reasons to stay alive  

..when it comes to the anxiety side at least, there does seem to be one thing that works across the board, to a greater or lesser degree.

Namely: slowing down. Anxiety runs your mind at fast-forward rather than normal 'play' speed, so addressing that issue of mental 'pace' might not be easy. But it works.

Anxiety takes away all the commas and full stops we need to make sense of ourselves.  Here are some ways to add back that mental punctuation:

Yoga. I was a yogaphobe, but am now a convert. It's great because unlike other therapies, it treats the mind and the body as part of the same whole.

Slow your breathing. Not crazy deep breaths. Just gentle in for five, out for five. It's hard to stick to, but it is very hard for panic to happen if your breathing is relaxed. So many anxiety symptoms - dizziness, pins and needles, tingling - are directly related to shallow breathing.

Meditate. You don't have to chant; just sit down for five minutes and try and think of a single calming thing. A boat moored in a glittering sea. The face of someone you love. Or just focus on your breathing.

Accept. Don't fight things, feel them. Tension is about opposition, relaxation is about letting go.  Live in the present. Here is meditation master Amit Ray:

'If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment. Live in the breath.'

The source of the experience

Haig, Matt

Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Activities and commonsteps





Controlled breathing