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Using Breath as the Gateway to Personal Connection and Calm
Episode 11831st March 2024 • Stillness in the Storms • Steven Webb
00:00:00 00:19:53

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  • 00:00 Podcast host discusses meditation's impact on life.
  • 04:07 Importance of breath for relaxation and meditation.
  • 08:31 Breath is key to physical and mental well-being.
  • 10:23 Focusing on the present moment reduces anxiety.
  • 14:06 Connection to universal human experience through breathing.
  • 17:57 Embrace words’ power, alleviate suffering, find self.

In this episode of Stillness in the Storms, host Steven Webb explores the profound impact of returning to your breath. He discusses the simplicity of this form of meditation and its ability to instill calmness in the body and mind. Webb shares personal experiences, from moments of stress to a time in intensive care, highlighting the power of the breath as a gateway to mindfulness. He delves into the symbolic and deeply philosophical aspects of breath, emphasizing its universal nature and connection to life itself. Join us as we delve into the significance of this simple act and its potential for deep insight and personal growth.



Hello and welcome to this week's podcast. I'm Steven Webb, your host, and this is Stillness in the Storms. I want to talk about returning to your breath and it's the simplest form of meditation and just, ah, I'm breathing in, I'm breathing out, but does it really lead to a profound insight? Does it really calm the body? Does it really have a massive impact on your life Say, you're going through some real trouble or is it just a bit of hocus pocus? Is it a little bit of a woolly kind of thing? Just returning to your breath Seems so simple, yeah, is it? That's what we're going to talk about on today's podcast, so welcome. But just before we get started on that, I just want to say thank you to all my supporters, thank you to everybody that donates and again, really deeply appreciate you guys. It makes a big difference and thank you for sharing the podcast and thank you for leaving a review. I got a review on my inner peace meditations podcast and it just said you've changed my life profoundly, and it was like I read it I was like, oh, I want to run away. I can't do that. That's not me. But I just I sat with it, I sat by breath and was like okay, thank you. So if you feel like leaving a review, it makes a big difference. So, thank you. So if that's my ask this week, leave a review. That would be awesome. You know, it tells other people where to go if they need a little bit of inner peace when they need it most.

Let's get on with today's topic. Today's topic is returning to the breath, and this is my go to meditation. I don't even call it a meditation, I don't even go down that route. To be quite honest, like if I'm really struggling, whether I'm sat in a council meeting, whether I'm stuck in traffic on the way down the hill, or I'm stuck underneath a bridge when it's raining and I'm feeling myself getting stressed out, or I find myself mindfully just, I find myself mindlessly wandering around I just okay, let's breathe. I just take a few deep breaths and, to be quite honest, they're not even deep breaths. I just take breaths because my body knows how to breathe. I don't really need to get involved. My body's I say this in my meditations. My body's been breathing for I don't know 52 years and every time I get involved I mess it up. So I allow my body right now I'm talking to you my body's breathing in and out. It's putting me off now that I'm thinking about it, but in and out the words. It knows when to breathe, it knows how deep to breathe, it knows so I don't need to get involved. So if taking deep breaths or slow breaths help and they sometimes do the box breathing 4-4-4-4.

But if you can just return to your breath I'm breathing in, I'm breathing out you instantly feel more at peace and you can do it whenever you're feeling a little anxious or stressed. There's never anywhere that I can think of that you cannot take a moment to take a deep breath before doing something. Even if they announce your name and you've got to walk out on stage and there are 10,000 people waiting for you, you can still just take a breath. Make them wait for one breath. A doctor calls you in the office. Just take a breath. If that phone rings, just take a breath. There's nothing that's that urgent that you cannot. Okay, I've got this. You know there's nothing that's that urgent that you cannot. Okay, I've got this.

So I'm going to go through seven ways in which it really does have a big impact on our lives. Because what do I do Several times a day, sometimes probably 20, 30 times a day. I'll just return to my breath for just, sometimes only 20 seconds, and it connects with the environment. It connects with everything around me. It allows my body to take a breather my body, you know. If I'm like anybody else, my body's tense and ready and waiting for the catastrophe to happen at any moment, or it's mindlessly doing something like browsing or doing those other things. Just taking that breath allows my body to to relax. That's the only thing you do. Just allow your shoulders to relax.

So why is returning to the breath so important and why? What does it really have a real deep, profound impact on your life? And it and it will, because it has with mine and it has with so many people. There is deeper meditations you could do. There's all kinds of, there's thousands of different types of meditation, but there isn't anybody I know, even zen, zen masters, british monks and even the people I talk to that seem to have all their shit together compared to people like me and you. They all use their breath at some point, so it's immediately there. That's number one. You always have access to your breath. If you haven't got access to your breath, you've got a bigger problem than sitting there meditating for the next two or three minutes.

So even when I was on bed rest and I had a you can't see it because I've got my next thing on but I had a tracheotomy for about the first four months and I couldn't speak. I had one tut for yes and two tuts for no. And communicating like that while you're on bed rest about what food you like, what you wanted, how you were feeling, is not easy and but I, in that time I really grew to appreciate my breath and I've just jumped ahead actually because I've forgotten about. So when I was in intensive care, I was on what's called a CPAP machine. So they put it on your throat and it breathes if you stop breathing. So basically it's continuous pressure, something, continuous air. I don't know. Cpap it's called and what it does is.

So if I got too tired because I did not have any chest muscles, I only had my diaphragm and instantly, overnight, I had to learn a new way of breathing, a new way of the body doing things, and now I was lying on the bed with 15 pounds of weight hanging off the top of my head in intensive care, two or three days after breaking my neck 18 years old and I was in Salisbury infirmary, intensive care, couldn't eat anything, couldn't drink anything, as my body just did not want to move or did not want to adjust to anything. And I would get the little momentary rest and I would deliberately just stop breathing and I'd be there and I'd just stop and this machine would detect it and go, shh, shh. And it was so wonderful, it was so relaxing, just oh, I don't even have to breathe, and it was just so peaceful. I can remember doing that.

The other thing that I really enjoyed during that time was the nurses had these little lemon sticks and because I couldn't eat anything, I couldn't drink anything. It was, you know, I suppose, what they could nail my mouth or something, and this went on for like days. They used to wipe this lemon stick on my lips. Oh, that was heaven. So in between, just been able to just relax and do nothing, just literally do nothing. I don't even have to breathe and the machine go and breathe for me. That was wonderful. And also those lemon sticks. I never forget those lemon sticks.

Um, yeah, when you have nothing, the small things really do count, and that's so, so true. We, we think we're not happy when we have an abundance of nerdy everything. What wait? Wait to see how much gratitude you have when you really have next to nothing and all you do have is your breath for those lemon sticks and remember it very well, very vividly, but moving back. But so your breath is always there. It's one thing that it's easy to bring to mind, it's easy to go to, it's easier than say, going, what about the sound? Or what about to how the body's feeling or emotions? You know they come and go and all those things, but your breath you can almost guarantee if things are going slightly above absolutely desperate, you've got your breath. I don't know what point when you don't have your breath, but I've been in real situations that, like I say that I couldn't breathe, so moving on, so you got the physical impact.

So the minute you just become aware of your breath and allow your breath to be what it is, be what it is, you have the um parasympathetic nerves that come into play and the body just instantly relaxes. It gets better by the moment. It becomes more calming, instantly your heart rate lowers, your, it eases tension, your physical state supports a state of mental well-being and you've only got to do a couple of breaths for that to start happening. Ah, if you do that right now, just do a little sigh and allow that breath out. You know, breathing in calm, breathing out relaxed, and just allow your body to relax, you can instantly feel your body. Ah, and you didn't know you were holding all that tension in your shoulders and everything. Because we don't, because it's normal and it's a real.

Number three, it's a real mindfulness gateway. So it's that gateway to the now. What's going on now? So you can, can you hold the breath in your mind as well as how warm is the room, what's going on around me, what can I hear, what can I see, what can I feel? And instantly that reduces the anxieties. It reduces many of the things that are causing us stress, because in the present moment there's very rarely things that are actually going wrong. Most of the things we're thinking about is in the past or the future. The present moment, things are normally okay. You know, that thing that we're really stressing about hasn't arrived yet and if, if that thing has arrived, you're probably not thinking about going to your breath anyway.

And it's simple. Number four it's simple. It's not complex in any way. You know it's so simple you'll think you're doing it wrong. Meditate in your breath. Okay, sit, breathing in, breathing out, and repeat Breathing in, breathing out, repeat and you might find it hard to keep the focus on your breath. So count the out breaths. So breathing in and then breathing out. One, breathe it in, breathe it out. Two, see if you can get to ten. Challenge you when this podcast is over. See if you can get to ten and if you head over to a link in the show notes the Inner Peace Meditations podcast.

I've recorded and uploaded a returning to your breath meditation just to help you with this concept. I know you know this concept. I know you've returned to the breath. You've been in a situation before where you've sat down, you've put your head there and you've just took a deep breath. So you've done it. It's not something alien to us, but mindfully doing it's a different thing and the breath is a symbol of life.

Number five. You know, to take a breath means you're alive. There isn't anything alive on earth that doesn't take the equivalent to a breath. You know, as we breathe out, the trees breathe in. As we breathe in, the trees breathe in. As we breathe in, the trees breathe out. You know they're not separate to us, they're the other half of our lungs and that's the whole of nature, the whole of the breath cycle. You know, whether you're in the sea, whether you're a group of whatever it is, it's all life. You need breath, you need that transition.

And the other thing that I find every breath is it's a sign of letting go, a sign of release. So you wouldn't take a breath if you didn't have the faith that another breath would come along. And every breath is a step into the unknown. I'm going a bit deep here, or maybe a bit far, if you think about it. You're breathing in and then you let that breath out. You wouldn't let that breath out if it was your last one or if you didn't have faith there was more oxygen or more air for you. So every breath is just a letting go. I can let go of this moment because a new moment is going to come along. It's so simple.

And then, finally, number seven it's a connection to the world. You know, like I said, there isn't anything else in the world that doesn't take a breath and you're connected to everything. Everybody needs to take a breath. That connection with the universal experience. You know, nobody will look up and go yeah, I don't know what you mean to take a breath, because we all need to do it. We all know the importance of it. It's the same as your heart beating or the same as your mind thinking or your lungs breathing. You'll do it your whole life.

You might think you don't do these things when you're asleep. I know, you know you breathe when you're asleep, but the thinking and all those things you're not aware of when you're asleep, you do them all. It's just you're not aware of them. You know I will shut the human off, we'll take him offline for a minute, because it will just drive us insane. I like that idea of my inner chimp, my subconscious mind, saying yeah, it's time to go to sleep, I'm going to shut you off while I do some maintenance in the brain. I think that's so funny. Anyway, I digress.

But the breath, just it's so simple but yet so important and can it lead to deep, profound insights. Not, yes, sit with it long enough. You know, if you, every morning, when you wake up, sit on the edge of the bed or go and sit cross-legged or at the kitchen table, get your cup of tea or your cup of coffee, make it really hot so you cannot drink it for like 10, 20 minutes and just sit there and wait for it to cool down and while you're waiting, just breathe in and breathe out. Breathing in calm, breathing out, relax. And if you do that 20 minutes every morning, 15 minutes, everyone it would it will lead you to a deeper understanding.

And the understanding is how does your mind work, how does your body work? Because once we understand all these things, we can end up playing with them a little bit more. That's why a mechanic enjoys the car because they know how they work. They don't mind tinkering and playing around with them. It's the same as me with the computer shop and my computer. I don't mind puttinginkering and playing around with them. It's the same as me with the computer shop, my computer. I don't mind putting bits in and out okay, getting other people to do it, because I'm paralyzed and can't do it. But I don't mind installing software and playing around with it because I know how it works. I know how to fix it.

So when we know how our body works, when you know how your body works, it will give you a a deeper sense of play. You can enjoy it more. You know, and I don't mean to make this well. I am going to make this an intimate thing. Didn't intimacy get better when you started to discover and learn about your body? It's the same with your breath, same with your thoughts.

The deeper you go into understanding who you are and, more importantly, who you are and, more importantly, who you are not and I've got a podcast that goes into that um, who you are not is vitally important because the more we get attached to who we are and we realize that who we are it's just a figment of our imagination. At best, you know, know. At worst it's none of those things either. And you know. Once you realize that on a deeper level, you can start to play with it. You know, in a similar way, a wonderful quote. What was it? Dance like no one's watching. I always like to follow that first bit of the quote Dance like no one's watching. Use your words like the whole world's listening. That's my butchering of the original quote, but I like my version use your words like the whole world's listening, because words are powerful and I'm here on a podcast talking. But you know, when we return to breath, we start to play with ourselves, play with our body, play with what's going on in our minds and play with the true self, the not true self, the face before we are born, all those things, and we take them more lightly and we just suffer less. That's the important thing Is your spiritual journey leading you to suffering less. It's working, as long as you're not putting your suffering on somebody else just for the small print there.

I'm Stephen Webb and you can find out more about me or support the podcast. Go to stephenwebbuk, leave a review, just you know. Contact me if you want to, if you want me to cover any specific topics or anything like that. If you have any questions for me or anything like that, just head over to Not, not only can you donate a coffee to support the show, you can message me directly and you can see my other podcasts, you can see my blogs and you can also find my YouTube channel and things like that, and you can follow me on social media. Look, just return to your breath. Enjoy the gaps between the thoughts, between the speaking, speaking between the things, because your breath's always there. Take care and I love you.



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