Ordinary Breathing: Our Default Breathing Mode

Let us look at the characteristics of ordinary breathing:

  1. Ordinary breathing is autonomic. It goes on 24/7 without our being aware of it. It goes on in waking state, in dream sleep and also in deep sleep when we not conscious at all. Figure 1 graphically depicts its autonomic nature.

    Figure 1 graphically depicts the autonomous nature of ordinary breathing. It consists of exhalation following inhalation and inhalation following exhalation without us being aware of it at all.

  2. Ordinary breathing is driven by our unconscious mind in accordance with the normal course of nature.
  3. Rate of ordinary breathing varies from individual to individual between 12 breaths/minute to 20 breaths/minute with an average of around 15 breaths/minute.

  4. Ordinary breathing is also shallow breathing with around 1/2 litre of air per breath at the rate of 15 breaths/minute. Higher the breathing rate, lower the volume of air per breath and lower the breathing rate, higher the volume of air per breath.

  5. In ordinary breathing, lungs begin inhalation or exhalation depending upon the homeostatic set points of the individual.

  6. The homeostatic set points for inhalation and exhalation are determined by a combination of the current neural circuitary of our brain and the instantaneous state of our emotions.

  7. Our state of emotions keeps changing from moment to moment affecting the rate of our ordinary breathing.

  8. Our neural circuitry changes from time to time with changes in our hormonal chemistry. This also changes the rate at which we breathe ordinarily.

  9. Ordinary breathing maintains our survival leading to ordinary lives.

  10. Ordinary breathing does not help focus. On the other hand, it is distractive.

  11. Ordinary breathing may be called our default breathing mode. We default to it on being unaware of breath: a state in which we largely exist.