People take breathing for granted, but full breathing is necessary for emotional health. A person’s energy is supplied by food, drink, air, and light. Among these, breathing has the most power for improving quality of life. Free and full breathing provides expansion and contraction of a person’s whole organism, not just their lungs. Unfortunately,with little breathing, little genuine satisfaction in life is possible.
Emotional illness comes from dammed-up life energy. Muscle tension and character defenses restrict full breathing and keep people ill-at-ease. Muscle tension blocks the free, healthy use of energy by the body. Therapy works at safe release of this dammed-up backlog.
Chronic tension restricts breathing and guards a person against uncomfortable feelings of fear, anxiety, worry, anger, sadness, or vulnerability being close to other people. It even guards against anything that might lead to these difficult feelings. Even pleasure can seem dangerous if it’s been punished or if it’s led to pain in the past.
Minimal breathing is a natural defense children learn to get along in the world, to overcome criticism, and to feel safe when the outside world is hard to take. A child’s inside world can become painful from thoughts, feelings, or things they see. Adults, too, subdue feelings with tension that limits breathing. It’s unconscious. The human body naturally reacts to stress with shallow breathing.
Breathing and Therapy in Action
When primary drives, such as love, pleasure, sexuality, and the physical need to move get frustrated, the natural result is anger, hatred, cruelty, spite, or just giving up and being dependent. These results are “secondary drives,” which can be worked through in therapy. Fuller breathing helps return a person’s energy to their primary drives. This is basically how therapy makes life better for living. Gradually freeing up breathing is essential.