Breathing Your Way to a Mindful Life
In our last post, we continued our quest for a less stressful, more joyful and effective life by presenting the SANE acronym for mindfulness and introducing the practice of meditation. In this post, we’ll add to your stress-busting arsenal by explaining the role of, and some tips for properly breathing.
Get off the Sinking Ship of Overwhelm Part 3
Let’s recap the S.A.N.E approach to practice mindfulness:
Notice without judgement
The practice presented last time was meditation, and included a few suggestions for getting started. Have you tried it? Awesome! What worked for you? What didn’t?
Please know that not every practice is for every person, which is why we’re presenting several to you here. The key is to try different things and notice what is more accessible, has a greater impact, and is easier for you to commit to.
This is not an opportunity for you to beat yourself up for imperfection! It’s an opportunity to be gracious and hold a bit of space for yourself to be curious and experimental. And with that, let’s take a look at our second practice: breathing.
Yes, breathing is an integral part of meditation, but can also be incredibly effective on its own, and requires very little in the way of a time commitment. When we’re stressed, our breathing constricts, flooding our bodies with stress hormones, and continuing the vicious cycle.
A helpful way to get started with this is to set a “breathing alarm” on your phone, and check in with your breathing several times throughout the day, as well as in those S.O.S. moments when you’re experiencing heightened stress. Here are a few techniques to try:
Try 4-squared breathing. Sit with your feet flat on the floor, hands resting palms-down on your thighs. Close your eyes. Breathe in through your nose to the count of 4 (imagine a metronome rhythmically counting along); hold that breath for the count of 4; breathe out to the count of 4; hold that breath out for the count of 4. Repeat 4 times. Notice the shift in your mind, body, and breath in just this quick 1-minute exercise.
Try in/out nose breathing. Sit with your feet flat on the floor, hands resting palms-down on your thighs. Close your eyes. Take 3 deep breaths through your nose, and exhale them with a sigh from your mouth. Then shift your focus to the tip of your nose. Breathe in and out through your nose, thinking “In” as you breathe in, and “Out” as you breathe out. If your mind wanders, that’s OK, just bring it back to your breath. Set a timer for a few minutes and continue this breathing until the timer says stop. Notice any shifts in your mind, body, and breath.
Happy breathing! And to be continued…