20th May – World Meditation Day
We all know how to breathe – it’s something that happens without thought. However, how we breathe, can make a real difference to how we feel (our thoughts and emotions) and how our body feels.
When you breathe deeply, your brain receives a message to be calm and relax. In turn, your brain then sends a message to your body which results in your heart rate and blood pressure decreasing and your nervous system becomes soothed.
Here’s a breathing exercise for you to try:
The first technique to learn is diaphragmatic breathing, sometimes called abdominal or belly breathing…..
- First of all, find a comfortable place to sit. Sit upright with your back straight and shoulders loose and relaxed. Arms and legs are uncrossed, your feet are flat on the floor. Spend a few moments settling yourself down.
- Close your eyes and check that your head, neck and spine are in a straight line.
- Focus your attention on your breathing, but don’t try to change your breathing for the moment.
- Become aware of how fast or slow you are breathing. If you can, breathe slowly in… and out… through your nose. Hear the air moving into your body. Feel the coolness of the air in your nose and your throat as you take a breath in, and the warmth of the air as you breathe slowly out
- Now, put one or both hands on your stomach just below your rib cage. Relax the shoulders and hands. As you breathe in, allow your stomach to rise and as you breathe out, allow your stomach to flatten
- Allow yourself a little time to get into a regular rhythm. It may help to imagine in your mind’s eye, that as you are breathing in, you draw half a circle with your breath around your body, and as you breathe out, you complete the other half of the circle. Allow your breath to become smooth, easy and regular
- Now, take your attention to your next out breath and see if you can slow down your breath out
- See if you can create a comfortable pause before you take your next long breath in. Take your time to allow your breaths in…and out…to follow smoothly and easily. If any distractions, thoughts, or worries come into your mind, just allow them to come…and allow them to go… and bring your attention back to your breathing
- Continue with this for as many more breaths as you would like
- When you are ready…begin to bring your attention back to the room, noticing any sounds around you… take a few deeper breaths in. Bring some feeling back into your fingers and toes by giving them a wiggle… Slowly, blink your eyes open…Take a moment to notice how you are feeling
The way you breathe affects your whole body and how you feel. Change your breath to change your mind…
Breathing exercises are easy to learn and a really good way to lower tension, relieve stress and help you relax. You can do them whenever you want and no equipment is needed.