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Several cultures use the same word for “breath” as they do for “spirit” or the vital energy that is the source of life.

It is called “chi” in China, “prana” in India and “ki” in Japan. The word “Reiki,” which refers to a form of energy healing, comes from this same root. In many traditions, there is the belief that good health is dependent on this flow of vital “chi” energy in the body. In the West, Dr. Wilhelm Reich called it “Orgone” energy.

The idea is that we can move this energy life force to create balance in the body by being careful about the foods we eat, the thoughts we have and especially the way we breathe. This breathing “chi” is absorbed by doing energy exercises. When we pay more attention to our breathing, our minds become more focused, our heartbeats slow down and our inner psychic guides us.

Let’s think about what defines stress: We usually think of stressors as being negative, but they can also be positive like a wedding or a meeting or a date. We must remember that it is not the situation that is important so much as how we deal with it.

When we fail to cope well with stress, it can lead to depression, bad digestion, lack of sleep and illogical thinking. It can leave us exhausted. Signs of stress include headaches, upset stomach, anger and relationship problems.

Breathing exercises offer a coping strategy in much the same way that exercise or massage does. Being on a spiritual journey does not make us automatically free of stress—life is not like that. But having a breathing exercises as tools can help.

We have control over how we react to stress. Our job is to reduce the harm of stress in our lives.

Simple intention breathwork for renewal and strength can de-tense us and give us a respite. Here’s a simple place to start:

Easy “Sigh” Technique

In a stressful situation, there is always time for a sigh. It is an automatic response that your body makes when it is stressed.

You can use this “sighing” exercise when you need a quick relaxing response. Just take in a deep breath and as you exhale say, “Ahhhhh.” Visualize all the tension leaving, as you exhale slowly.

Repeat several times.

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