It's something you don't think about too often yet you do it all the time. It is an interesting bodily function because it seems to be both automatic and intentional. Think about it, we can't purposely pump our heart or cause our nerves to just turn off. We can't will ourselves to stop tasting or smelling. But we can take the wheel when it comes to breathing and I think this is a less understood miracle.
Through breathing we are able to self regulate a multitude of physical, psychological, and mental processes. We can slow and speed up our heart rates. We can raise and lower our body temperature. We can ease and calm our anxiety. Some breath-work modalities are known to induce even more powerful trips than psychedelics.
In James Nestor's book Breath, he learned that through various studies they found that across ancient religious faiths from Buddhism to Christianity to Islam, their prayers and meditations often followed a similar breathing scheme, 5.5 seconds inhale and 5.5 seconds exhale. This breathing scheme is known to bring the mind and body into a state of stillness, peace, and rest. Interestingly breathing is an integral part of cacao ceremonies as well. Breath-work plus the healthy effects of cacao can do wonders for the mind and body.
Our breathing is our most powerful tool in learning how to self regulate. With it we can regulate emotions, physical activity, sleep, and mindfulness. Think about this as you go through your day. Remember to breathe when you feel anxious, or angry, or sad. Your breath can bring you back to baseline. It can get you back to equilibrium and help you have more sound judgement.