In through the nose and out through the mouth. Breathing in through the nose and breathing out through the mouth. Taking a deep breath in through the nose, hold, feel your breath, and release out through the mouth.
Men in treatment and recovery from addiction hear many mantras, tips, cliches, mottos, and instructions from one day to the next. In programs like the ones we offer at Tree House Recovery in Portland where men learn the critical lifeskill of meditation and mindfulness, as well as regularly practice yoga, being told to breathe, and how to breathe, is a near daily occurrence. In through the nose, and out through the mouth.
Breathing cannot be argued because without breath, we cannot live. Until we learn how to become aware of our breath and create intention toward breathing mindfully, we typically don’t notice when we’re breathing or hardly breathing at all. The second our breath catches our attention and we fill our lungs up, expanding our chest and drawing air in through our nose, we become more connected, grounded, and present. Then, we let all that air back out through the mouth and feel instantaneous relief, as well as a sense of calm. Breathwork soothes our worrying sympathetic nervous system by activating our grounding parasympathetic nervous system. Men in recovery learn that turning to the breath is an effective coping mechanism for dealing with stress, but also for simply being more present in life. Focused breathing is one of many tools for dealing with one of addiction’s, and life’s, most persistent challenges: stress.
New research finds that breathing in through the nose, specifically, can also beneficially address and another major challenge of living with a brain recovering from addiction, as well as living a lifespan which includes aging: memory loss. Consistent abuse of drugs and alcohol damages the brain’s memory, along with many other brain functions. The Journal of Neuroscience recently published a study from an institute in Sweden which found a strong connection between the power of the nose and the power of the mind.
Twelve study participants took time to attempt memorizing 12 distinct smells delivered nasally. After memorizing the smells, all of the participants took a one hour break. Some participants were ordered to breathe only through the nose and others only to breathe through the mouth. Scientists found that the participants who breathed through the nose had greater success in recognizing the distinct smells they memorized compared to those who continued breathing through the mouth.
Smell is the greatest memory recall sense that human beings have. One small whiff of a scent can transport us through time, bring back vivid memories, and even inspire physical reactions. The more men associate breathing in through the nose with calm, strength, progress, and self-care, the more they store to memory the efficacy of the skill itself, as well as its underlying philosophy: everything is going to be okay.
Tree House Recovery is a men’s treatment program in Portland, Oregon, offering men a unique way to recover. Inspired by the great outdoors of the Pacific Northwest and the philosophies of proven recovery techniques, men create sustainable changes in their life, setting up a life without limitations. Call us today for information: (503) 850-2474