Where’s Your Diaphragm?

‘That’s not your diaphragm.’

’It isn’t?’

’No, your diaphragm is not breathing from your chest, it’s breathing from your tummy.’

I stopped to inwardly chuckle. When adults use the word ‘tummy’ it always makes me laugh. Okay back to concentration. One hand on my ‘tummy’ the other on my chest.

‘Take a breath in – just to make your hand on your tummy rise up. Okay, on the count of three. Now breathe out for six and hold for three.’

I did what Georgina said. I swear, everyone needs a German therapist. And repeat. We did it for five minutes or so. Besides the surprise of inflating your breath through your stomach, I was taken for how big my stomach was. I don’t spend a lot of time with my hand on my stomach. Sorry, I mean tummy.

‘What did you think of that?’ she asked. 

I thought for a moment. ‘It feels sort of like a diet. You don’t think it’s going to be enough, and you’re pleasantly surprised when it is. That not too much is actually good for you.’

Georgina smiled. Her famously gentle smile. ‘And breathing this way keeps you much more calm. Try doing it to with both feet on the ground too. When your feet are literally grounded, this also provides calm. People seek it through their feet.’

I nodded. Makes sense.

I’d come to Georgina‘s for a session on calming techniques. A month ago, we explored issues I’d developed with scuba-diving in recent years. A looming sense of panic. Feeling I can’t breathe. That air is too far away. No big deal. Then Georgina had focused on the five drivers of behavioural theory. Now, I can read behavioural theory until the shearwaters fly to South America and until Fin finishes having a really long nap, but my way of learning is listening. I have to listen. And luckily, Georgina can spin a yarn.

Georgina had arranged one more session for today. On the basis that you can appreciate the reasons why you behave, but when it comes to panic sometimes there is no logic. Old behaviours stick around. She planned to take me through a series of relaxing techniques. Ones that didn’t include mind-bending lifestyle changes. A refreshing change it turned out. 

‘Practice that 10 minutes a day,’ she said, ‘breathing through your diaphragm.’

‘Now that I’ve found it,’ I said and smiled at her smile.

‘Yes,’ she agreed. ‘Now that you’ve found it.’

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