Community Commentary: Breathe your way past life's disasters

As a community, we have all been shaken to our core with the Seal Beach mass murder incident. We all deal with stress, pressure, tension and friction on an everyday basis. We have all been in deeply chaotic situations in our life at one time or another, and somehow we seem to deal with such situations by suppressing the related feelings, using substances to numb our awareness of the inner chaos, etc., until one day the nervous system gives in, resulting in some kind of an outburst — in this case, unfortunately, the shooting of eight innocent victims.

There is probably not a single day that goes by without us turning on the news and witnessing senseless acts of violence.

I am sure a lot of you, like me, thought about what went wrong in this case — what might have gone through the gunman's mind when he decided to untimely take away the lives of so many people as a way to cope with his psychological pain? It's clear that his choice of action did not solve anything. It only left his 8-year-old child parentless.

We mourn the losses, we pray and we move on with our lives, but a seed of fear gets planted within us, leaving us to always wonder if the next person to snap will be someone you work with, someone you live with, someone you love — or you hope and pray that it's never you.

Being a life coach and a practicing teacher of the science of yoga and meditation, I see people struggle to free themselves from the prisons of their thoughts, feelings and emotions every single day. You can be successful in what you do, you can seem to have the perfect life, yet there seems to be a deep gorge that is filled with unprocessed thoughts, feelings, emotions, issues from the past, etc.

As colossal as these problems seem to us, there is one very simple solution to gaining control of our mind and thoughts: breath.

I have learned that by implementing the science of breath techniques, you can free yourself from a pattern of reacting to any situation. Instead, you can learn to respond to it in a way that will produce the most positive outcome for you, simply through the use of breath!

Breathing is the only action in the body that has a dual control system. It can operate consciously through the voluntary nervous system or unconsciously through the autonomic nervous system.

By learning to control your breath with special breathing techniques such as breathing deeply, consciously slowing down the breath, rapid breathing (breath of fire) or holding the breath in a particular pattern, you can change the profile of pulmonary peptides and communicate with your brain's periaqueductal gray area. This changes how you feel. You can use this mechanism to reduce pain, anger, frustration, anxiety, stress and fear.

Try this example for yourself: Close your right nostril with the right thumb and breathe exclusively from the left nostril. Continue for about six minutes, with the eyes closed and focused at the forehead. This subtly stimulates activity in the right hemisphere of the brain's cortex and produces a profound state of relaxation. If you find it difficult to relax after a crazy day, try this for about 11 minutes before going to bed. You'll be able to experience a much rested sleep, without the use of any sleeping pills.

The best part: There are no side effects! Remember, mind controls the body, and breath controls the mind.

All the big and little disasters in your life are totally preventable. It is imperative that we learn and understand these very effective and efficient techniques. Stress-related psychological illnesses are rising at a phenomenal rate even amongst our children. Learn and teach your kids these tools and keep them in your own personal, emotional disaster kit.

PRIYA JAIN is the founder and chief executive of Seventh Chakra Yoga in Huntington Beach.

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