The Science Of Meditation

Let's shift gears a bit and learn about the art of breathing. Breathing stands alone in the metabolic system because, although it is regulated by the primitive brainstem and completely involuntary, the individual can override and control the process. But guess what? In doing so there is a host of other involuntary functions that respond to your voluntary breathing, like heart rate.

Most of us Fillmorians knew about the MayFest Heritage 5K and 10K hosted by the Fillmore Rotary Club. What many of us don’t know is that there is a specific breathing technique for runners. Elite runners are well informed about the most efficient aerobic breathing.

It so happens that the technique I am referring to is precisely the same for meditation. Now you don’t have to breathe any particular way to gain the scientifically proven benefits of meditation. But breathing into the lower diaphragm called “diaphragmatic breathing” is the key to efficiency in running, your health and your well-being.

A primary benefit of meditation is that the meditation practitioner gains greater concentration skills. Why? Because the main goal of meditation is focusing on a particular “thing” and when your mind wanders the practitioner returns to the focused “thing.” The thing I teach students to focus on is their breathing process. The return benefit is that your newly created neuron networks grow your concentration skills. And, when you are voluntarily breathing the process is located in the brain’s cortex. Therefore “diaphragmatic breathing” itself grows new neuronal pathways.

You don’t have to meditate or run to practice behavioral breathing. The practice can be anywhere, anytime. Whether you are a meditation practitioner or runner or not, if you diaphragmatic breathe you become the intermediary of your mind and body. You are in control of the circumstances of your life literally, because you are displacing the autonomic nervous system from its sympathetic excitatory regulation. The result is that you gain an improved immune response to the leading health disorders plaguing contemporary society. There is not enough space for me to detail the wonderful science of diaphragmatic breathing. I do want to close with the runners technique. It’s called “3:2 belly breathing” because the lower lungs are more efficient and ventilated. The runner maintains three-foot strikes on the diaphragmatic inhale consciously swelling the belly and two-foot strikes on the forceful exhale. Besides a greater oxygen vital capacity, the runner's foot strike alternates on each exhale nurturing the art of balance.

Paul Benavidez, MFA