By Dr. Alicia Ruelaz Maher, M.D.

A simple practice, but profoundly effective in helping us to live more peacefully. Try this now. Take a deep breath in and feel it filling your lungs, expanding your ribs as it does so. Hold that breath and then let it out, relaxing as you do so. How do you feel?  Differently than before? More relaxed? Do you have more energy?

Most of us do not use anywhere near the capacity of lungs meaning that we miss out on the energy that more oxygen would give to us as well as the healing effects of releasing toxic waste products. Why is this? Our brains were not designed to process the amount of information that we currently receive. Rather than take in information slowly, processing it through the higher ordered thinking parts of the brain, the information comes through so rapidly that it goes to the more primitive parts of the brain. The primitive part of our brain is designed for our survival. When hit with this much information, it goes into a bit of a crisis mode putting us into the fight-flight-or freeze response. Since we often can’t fight or flee, we end up freezing, holding our muscles tense and breathing shallowly. We’ve become so accustomed to living this way that we no longer notice. That’s why it’s important to remind ourselves to take a deep breath. We notice that we’ve been holding tension- and break the cycle.

Try to take a deep breath every hour.  You’ll feel the difference.

Dr. Alicia Ruelaz Maher, M.D., is a board certified diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. In addition, she completed a fellowship in the interplay of mental and physical health leading to subspecialty board certification in Psychosomatic Medicine. With over fifteen years of studying, practicing, and teaching in academic medicine, living yoga in yearly ashram retreats, and observing medical care during travel to more than thirty countries, Dr. Maher has developed a “Spiritual Neuroscience” that integrates alternative and western medicine, spirituality, and neuroscience for innovation in current medical practice. For more on Dr. Maher and the Akasha Center, visit her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.