Many of us are well aware of the importance of slow, deep breathing for our total wellbeing–mental and physical health alike. Many of us try to use various forms of breathwork, whether it’s something as “simple” as paying attention to our own breathing or as intricate as formal exercises. Some of us tune into our breath as part of a meditation practice, others tune in on the fly, in a moment of intense stress, as an attempt to calm ourselves down; many of us do both. Some of us notice our breath only when it’s coming in short, shallow bursts during times of anxiety or outright panic attacks and then try to slow it down to regain a sense of stability and control. Quite likely, most (if not all) of us can often find it incredibly frustrating to quiet our mind, to still our racing thoughts and actually pay attention to our breathing long enough for it to “work.” I’ve recently discovered a handy breathing tool called moonbird that is flying to the rescue to help us tap into our breath and thus the inner workings of our own bodies, so we can experience true calm with less frustration.
The Importance of Breathing
It’s obvious that breathing keeps us alive, and it happens without us needing to do a single thing. Without our conscious effort, air moves in and out of our system, and oxygenated blood circulates through our entire being. Without breath, there is no life.
Less obviously, our breath can help us thrive. It can be a deliberate tool, an entry point into our own body. By changing our breathing, we can change how our nervous system works and how we feel. According to The American Institute of Stress, with intentional slow, deep, breaths, we can trigger our body’s relaxation response. When we tune into and change how we’re breathing, we directly impact our nervous system’s chronic stress response by switching out of the fight-flight-or-freeze mode of the sympathetic nervous system and activating the rest-and-digest mode of the parasympathetic nervous system.
Using our breath regularly and intentionally slowing it down can help us feel better physically and emotionally. It can help us feel calm and at ease even in the midst of life’s challenges and stressors. Deep breathing can’t remove our challenges and difficulties, but it can:
- reset our nervous system
- improve blood pressure and heart rate variability, important indicators of a healthy body and parasympathetic nervous system functioning
- calm anxious thoughts
- relax the muscles of the body
- help us feel more at ease and in control
- position us to choose our responses to difficulties rather than reacting emotionally
If deep breathing can do all this (and it does indeed), why don’t we all just automatically do it?
Intentional Breathing Can Be Frustratingly Difficult
Sure, our breath comes naturally and automatically. When we try to use it for our own good, though, it’s no longer automatic. When we try to practice deep breathing, we often get in our own way. Why? Because we start to think about it. Then, because we’re human, we begin to overthink it.
If you’re like me, the moment you try to concentrate on your breath, your mind becomes like a jealous child. What? You don’t want to pay attention to me? Well, then I’ll make you pay attention to me!! Remember that stupid thing you did today? That was just like that mistake you made and that other mistake you made and all those other blunders which is probably why people don’t like you and why you’re bad at your job and why you’re going to be out of work and how are you going to pay for your kids’ braces and college and…
I sometimes find that I turn my stress response on rather than off when trying to focus on my breath. Other times, I don’t think of stressful things, but I keep thinking of a bunch of neutral, random stuff. While I might not feel worked up, I also am not particularly relaxed and at ease. My breathing is happening automatically again, and I’m not tapping into it for the benefit of my wellbeing.
What if there was something that could help us slide into a soothing rhythm of deep breathing while helping us keep our focus on our breath and body? Happily, there now is, and it’s an amazing little device called moonbird.
In Flies Moonbird to Our Rescue
Moonbird is a handheld device that guides you through breathing exercises. Here’s why I love it:
- It is so much more than a reminder to breathe or a pattern to look at while you try to breathe with the pattern’s arbitrary pace (you know those smart watch and fitness band settings for breathing–they mean well and have a place, but I could never get them to work for me because they tried to make me fit them rather than the other way around; they’re also flat, one-dimensional, and live on a screen).
- It fits perfectly and comfortably into the palm of my hand, and it’s small and lightweight so I can take it with me pretty much anywhere.
- It actually breathes with me, expanding and contracting rhythmically to help me (and my nervous system) fall into synch with it.
- Moonbird is a tangible thing that I can focus on. I can watch it expand and contract. I can feel it expand and contract. When my mind wanders (nothing actually stops the human brain from wandering because thinking is what our brain is designed to do), I have my own breath plus my moonbird device to redirect my attention to as many times as I need to. That’s powerful and effective.
- I can use the moonbird app (available for both apple and android devices) to choose breathing exercises and even set my own custom rhythm, and it’s easy to do.
- I can listen to the app’s guided instructions as I breathe, or I can turn off the sound if I’m not in the mood for a voice.
- I can use the app to track my heart rate, heart rate variability, and my heart coherence (the extent to which my heart and lungs are working in harmony) and see how these health measures improve over time and how much better I feel with the improvement.
- I can decide to ditch the app and just use my moonbird device as a trusted breathing partner. I don’t always care about the data and my measurements but instead just want to be present and let my body do its thing, and the device lets me do that whenever I want to. And if I decide I want to track my unique stats for a while, I can use the app. It’s very flexible and personal.
- I can trust Moonbird. It was developed by experts using scientific research.
Is Moonbird Worth Its Cost?
At $199 USD, Moonbird is admittedly pricey. When deciding whether you want to spend the money on moonbird, it’s worth considering the financial costs of stress, anxiety, or just feeling less than calm and centered.
The following questions carry no judgement. They’re merely designed to help you become aware of how stress may be impacting your spending. How does stress affect your wallet? Are you stress-eating (eating out because you don’t have time to cook, grabbing fast food for you and your family as you rush from one activity to the next, reaching for junk food as you work or as you zone out in front of the TV out of exhaustion)? Do you spend money on alcohol, marijuana, sugary drinks, or coffee drinks to help get you through the day? What about sleep aids? Pain killers? Do you visit the doctor frequently for illnesses that may be related to stress? Does retail therapy help you cope but drain your bank account?
What if you diverted some of your stress-related expenses and instead treated yourself to a moonbird? And what if treating yourself to much-needed and much-deserved self-care by deep breathing with moonbird became a healthy new habit that paves the way for more ease and joy in your life?
Imagine the possibilities. Imagine how you can be. Imagine you. And breathe into it with moonbird.