How often have you been reminded to just breathe?
It sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? Breathing, after all, is completely natural. So natural in fact, that we rarely give it a second thought. Yet our breath is a powerful thing – not just for our bodies, but for our mind too.
Mindfulness is all about increased consciousness. By rooting ourselves in the present, we’re more aware of what’s going on around us – something that experts believe can promote calm, happiness and wellbeing. And luckily you can practice it anywhere, at any time.
The key to mindfulness is in the breath. A basic method of mindfulness meditation is to simply focus your attention on your own breathing – a practice known as “mindful breathing”. The objective sounds simple: focus on the breath as it flows in and out of the body. But in practice, the process of mindful breathing takes time, patience and perseverance. Here’s how it’s done.
Find a comfy spot. For beginners it’s a good idea to choose somewhere with few distractions, like a bed or sofa away from other people and without any background noise like a television. But as you get more experienced you’ll soon find you can tap into mindful breathing pretty much anywhere. After all, the key isn’t where you meditate, but how often you do it. Experts believe a regular practice can make it easier to cope with difficult situations, so once you’re in a rhythm stick with it to allow you to tap into the benefits when you really need them.
Slowly close your eyes, and move your attention to your breath. Whether you focus on the rise and fall of your chest or the feeling of the breath in your nostrils, try to stay completely focused on your breathing.
If your mind does wander (and it probably will), simply notice the distraction but gently guide your attention back to your breath. Remember, be kind to yourself – these things take practice.
When you first start your meditation practice, five minutes might seem like an eternity. But stick with it. This short window might be the only time you have all day to focus on you – and only you. So make the most of it.
Before you check out, take a few minutes to check in. Is your mind calm? Is your breath steady? Are you ready to face the day? Finally, pat yourself on the back for finishing the practice.
Mindfulness isn’t just a meditation; it’s a way of life. That means everything you learn in your meditation practice can be applied to everyday situations. So if you feel yourself getting stressed or anxious, just direct your mind back to your breath.
You don’t need to close your eyes – simply take a deep inhale through your nostrils, hold your breath, then let out a long exhale through your mouth. Repeat until you begin to feel calm and in control.
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