Do you sometimes reflect on what makes people feel good and use their talents to produce outstanding results? What makes your body perform with efficiency? My answer is simply energy. I love watching preachers on television. I organise training programmes and usually observe speakers and assess their energy levels. The higher the energy level, the more efficient the body. I used to have one consultant in our programmes, until he moved out of Lagos. Participants always evaluated him high, in terms of quality of presentation and the value derived from his subject. One distinguishing factor in his favour was his energy and vibrancy.
Energy is evidence of good health. Of course, everyone loves to be vibrant and healthy. In order to enjoy a vibrant health, there is need to understand a bit how your body works. You need to respect it; take good care of it and it will take care of you, as long as you live. God has created the body as a complicated system, and human body scientists are working conscientiously to unravel its secrets. King David says in Psalm 139: 14, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” I believe that God made the body very complicated so that the maintenance will be easy. Each time I am coming out of the aircraft, I take a glimpse of the cockpit from where the pilots operate. Of course, those pilots need not be electronic engineers but they have learnt which buttons to touch at a particular time to control the movements of the aircraft. They are not concerned with the complicated systems. It is not their business to fully understand how they work. They are concerned only with their effects. In the same way, we need to know and do some simple things to keep our God-given complex body functioning.
The commonest thing we do is breathing. It is the simple and the most important. In the account of the creation of man, as recorded in Genesis 2:7, “The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” Breathing makes the difference between life and death. Life begins when we inhale our first breath and ends when we exhale our last breath. It is the alpha and omega of life.
It has been said that we can live for weeks without food, and only days without water, but only minutes without air. We breathe more than 20,000 times in a day.
Breathing is a way to supply oxygen and nutrients to all the cells of the body. This makes for a healthy bloodstream, which assures a long and healthy life. Breathing not only controls oxygenation of the cells; it controls the lymphatic system, which contains white blood cells that protect the body. The lymph fluid removes dead cells, blood proteins, and other toxic materials and poisons from the capillaries. The cells of the body depend on the lymphatic system, as the only way to drain off the large toxic materials and excess fluid. If the lymphatic system stops functioning for some hours, the excess fluid and trapped blood proteins around the cells will accumulate and may cause death. The simple button to get this complicated system working is breathing.
Breathing extends its effects to the workings of the heart and lungs, as well as to subtle molecular processes, through which the body’s energy production is maintained. The tissues and organs of the body are composed of cells which must function in order to keep us alive. The nutrients supplied by the food we eat act as a fuel, but it must be converted into a form that these cells can use or we would die. Energy is produced through a process of combustion when oxygen combines with a fuel. This process takes place in the mitochondria of cells. The nose, trachea, lungs, circulatory system and attending muscles all act to transport oxygen from the air we breathe to make it available to the cells. Energy production within the body could potentially be altered, should any of these organs not function properly. Insufficient supply of oxygen to meet the body’s energy demands will result in a reduction of cellular functioning or even death.
The critical question is: do you know how to breathe correctly? Dr. Andrew Well of the Harvard Medical School said, “If I had to limit my advice on healthy living to just one tip, it would be simply to learn how to breathe correctly.” Improper breathing is a common cause of ill- health. The simple procedure for breathing is as follows: 1. Breathe into your diaphragm (not shallow “chest” breathing.) 2. Inhale through the nose. 3. Exhale through the mouth. 4. Take longer to exhale than to inhale. 5. Slow down (reduce your breaths per minute). 6. Practise until it becomes your natural breathing pattern.
According to Carol Krucoff, “Slow, deep breathing is a powerful anti-stress technique. When you bring air down into the lower portion of the lungs, where the oxygen exchange is most efficient, heart rate slows, blood pressure decreases, muscles relax, anxiety ceases and the mind calms.” Breathing deeply and slowly will relax you, while instantly sending powerful doses of oxygen to the brain and other cells of the body.
Dr. Steiner suggests that anytime you are tired or fatigued, stop. Take 10 slow, deep breaths that go to the pit or bottom of your stomach. This extends the lungs beyond the rib cage, filling the larger portions of the lungs. When lungs are filled fully, more oxygen is available to the body. There is no single more powerful or simpler daily practice to improve your health and well-being than breathing correctly.