Paying attention to your breath can have some powerful effects on both your body and mind. Actually, anything you do mindfully can really help bring you back to this present moment.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary describes mindfulness as:
the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened
or complete awareness of one's thoughts, emotions, or experiences
on a moment-to-moment basis
In terms of breath, it helps to calmly acknowledge the inhale of oxygen - notice the sensations of your nostrils, the path this oxygen goes through, how it expands your belly, and the way it leaves your body through the exhale.
It can be quite therapeutic!
The idea is to slowly direct your breath to the deeper section of your lungs and into your belly - "expanding the belly forward".
Most of the day, we spend unintentionally breathing to the most shallow top thirds of our lungs.
Deeper breathing is where we can begin to notice the calming effects of mindful breathing.
Carving off 15-20 minutes may be a bit far fetched if you’re a busy bee but you can use this simple exercise to empty your mind and find some much-needed calm among the craziness of a hectic day with a short few minutes.
Let's get started!
• Sitting or standing, find a spot you can dedicate 2-3 minutes to yourself without interruptions - the washroom works great!
While you're there, here's how it's going to go:
• Each cycle will last 8 seconds
• Taking a deep inhale - counting to 4, expand your belly by guiding your breath there (remember, you're aiming for the bottom part of your lungs)
• On your exhale, start from your belly by drawing it in toward your spine and moving up from there. This should also last for another count of 4.
• Continue this exact way (inhale - exhale each for 4 counts) for a lapse of 2 minutes to start
• Put a timer on your phone, watch, or whatever can help keep you on track
• Your every thought that pops up, usher it to the side. You're focusing on your breath right now!
• Purposefully watch your breath - focusing on the path this breath enters and leaves your body.
That's it! Simple, right?
This is part of my self-care routine. How is this self-care you may ask? It helps cultivate my mental spaciousness and bring a level of connection between my body and mind.
I truly hope you invite this practice into your day. Try it for 2 minutes and extend from there.
Below is the one minute exercise I recorded, just so you can see what I'm referring to here:
Have you or do you practice(d) mindful breathing? Share your experience - it may help others welcome this practice.