Did you know that “a sigh of relief” is more than just an expression?
It turns out that sighing is actually good for our brains and our bodies. Researchers at the University of Leuven in Belgium have discovered that sighing helps us return to normal breathing patterns after experiencing an emotion such as anxiety or fear. They refer to this as a “psychophysiological reset.”
There are other reasons we sigh, too. Sometimes we sigh with sadness, sometimes we sigh with content. In fact, we sigh an average of once every 5 minutes. And this is good for us because when we breathe normally, the small air sacs in our lungs (alveoli) may collapse and impact our lung function. Sighing counteracts that with a big breath that re-inflates the alveoli.
It’s no wonder then that breathing is a key component of successful meditation.