I love a good sigh. Not necessarily an angry one, or a frustrated one (although these have benefits) but one where you’ve taken a big breath in and then it gets released in one beautiful sigh! Sighing is something we do naturally and has important functions for our bodies.
One thing to note though before we delve deeper into the joy of sighing is that if you ever do notice yourself sighing a lot, it could be a sign of an underlying health issue so please do follow that up if it seems you’re constantly sighing.
Sighing has come to be viewed negatively. Sighs of anger, boredom, frustration, annoyance- all associated with lower emotions. In Venice, the Bridge of Sighs is so named due to the sadness evoked from prisoners who were soon to lose their freedom, the bridge being their last beautiful sight. Yet sighing historically was also associated with romance, longing lovingly, dream-like states and of course in relief. It is found in poetry, novels, films and other artistic creations so perhaps it’s time to view it more positively?
It’s my view that just as we now recognise crying as a release of emotion, we can see sighing in the same way! Just as it is practically a release of old air, the sigh can also be an expelling of old emotions that we want to rid ourselves. Just as in our conscious breathing intentions we release the unwanted aspect on the out breath, sighing is our body doing this for us.
Benefits of sighing
So, to the benefits of sighing! The main point I like is that sighing is such a release of tension. It seems our shoulders relax and everything frees up for a few seconds following a sigh. I feel more balanced after I sigh, as though it has reset my breathing pattern. I think it’s our body’s natural way of resetting the breath. An attempt to slow us down and make us notice how we are feeling. Often, we ignore the message and that’s when our emotions escalate and situations that could be calmer go out of control.
The more stressed and worried we are, the more we sigh and instead of seeing the sigh as a showing of negativity, I think we should see it as a helpful friend who is there to calm us and hold us in a beautiful deep breath.
As well as this relaxation, the other physical benefits to our lungs include inflating our alveoli to keep our lungs healthy and capacity at a good level. Again, this is a natural occurrence which our body is able to self-regulate. I love finding things like this out. it shows the miracle of our bodies and how each individual cell in our systems has it’s own energy and mind to do things even when we are not consciously aware- just amazing!
How to sigh high?
Natural sighs can’t be forced but we can replicate the health giving benefits of expanding our lungs with a wonderful deep breath and release of tension that comes with the exhale.
Breathe in for a count of four, expanding through your chest, ribs and stomach. Hold for a second and then release as though you are blowing birthday candles out and feel the tension flow out with the breath.
Another beautiful mindful exercise to do is to listen for the Earth’s sigh. The pace of the Wind as it picks up and appears to sigh- maybe you can imagine what she is sighing for? Is it a sigh of longing or for happiness? A lovely way to connect with nature.
Final sigh of this blog!…
My biggest lesson from discovering about sighing is that if you feel a big sigh approaching, don’t try and block it. It’s a natural reflex and needn’t be suppressed. It’s not rude and it’s not something you need to hide. It’s a valuable communication tool as well when words can’t express how you’re feeling, someone may pick up that you need a moment or need help through hearing your sigh. I love the idea of that- communication without speaking, a return to our roots before language took over our brains and made us favour intellectual thought over intuitive decisions.
So sigh high friends and rediscover your natural breath! Let me know how you find this week’s exercise and if it helps you.
Best Wishes and Deep Breaths,