Developing a Daily Breathing Meditation Is Easier Than You Think
January 17, 2020
Let’s face it — modern living is stressful. Between school and work, friends and family, commitments and complications, it’s not always easy to juggle it all. As our lives continue to speed up, it grows more difficult to find time to take care of ourselves.
If you’re looking to live a happier, healthier, more managed life, try adopting a mindfulness meditation practice. This simple daily routine can help you learn to focus, release stress and anxiety, process toxic emotions, conquer your temper, and enjoy more of your life by being present in the moment.
Numerous health studies cite the practical benefits of developing a habitual mindfulness routine centered around breathing meditation. A new report based on data from the 2017 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) found that US adults’ use of meditation in the past 12 months tripled between 2012 and 2017. Doctors are quick to recommend it. While the idea of adding one more task to your day may seem daunting at first blush, setting aside as little as five to ten minutes can help recharge your batteries and give you the new clarity. And it’s easier than you think!
Start by finding a comfortable position sitting up where you won’t be disturbed. Sitting upright in a chair works just as well for beginners as sitting lotus does for advanced practitioners. Place your right hand gently in your left, with your thumbs slightly touching. Tilt the head slightly forward. Close your mouth and let the tip of your tongue rest against the back of your teeth. You can close your eyes as well or relax your focus as you move inward.
Allow yourself to become aware of the sounds in the space around you until you are familiar with them. Then turn your attention to your body. Notice the sensations of the body, the way it feels, the pressure of your seat. Become aware of the body as you breathe freely and deeply.
Scanning slowly from the top of your head down to the tip of your toes, notice where you are holding tension. Gently tell your body to let go and relax. You can imagine you are being filled slowly with healing golden light or washed over with cool numbing waters. Go with whatever works best for you.
Once you’re comfortable, you can now turn your focus to your breath. Breath in naturally through your nose and out through your mouth. Notice the rhythm of the breath, how it flows in and out, without trying to control it. Be aware of where you feel it in your body, in your lungs, your mouth, your nostrils. Feel how the chest and abdomen naturally rise and fall as your breath in.
Don’t try to control anything. Just allow yourself to comfortably breathe.
Thoughts will arise in your mind like clouds in a clear blue sky. This is totally natural. You may even feel like your mind is louder than normal. That’s okay. It may simply be because you are now paying more attention to them. Do not become attached to the thoughts. Let them pass without following where they lead. You are not your thoughts.
When you notice your mind has wandered off the breath, gently return it. Don’t force or fight your mind. Just return your attention to the sensation of the breath and allow your mind to quiet down.
Some useful techniques for focusing on breath include counting each time you breath in or out and imagining the breath moving through your body. Some meditators use mantras or positive affirmations with each breath while others simply remind themselves that they have drifted off course and are thinking again.
After a while, you will notice a feeling of calm and peace descending over you. Focus on the feeling and allow it to grow as you enjoy the moment. When you are ready, relax your concentration and allow your mind to go wherever it wants. Begin to be aware of the sensations of the body once more, the weight of it pressing down into your seat. Once more, allow yourself to become familiar with the sounds around you as you gently open your eyes.
Don’t get up right away. Instead take a moment to notice how you feel. Make the decision to carry that feeling with you into your day, or to remind yourself of it when you get stressed or anxious. When you are ready, you can get up and go about your day feeling rejuvenated and mindful.
Start out slowly at first as you develop your new meditation practice. Try going five minutes with a timer first thing when you get up in the morning or right before you go to bed at night — whichever works best for you. As you become more familiar with the process, and begin experiencing deeper levels of relaxation, peace, and bliss, you’ll naturally want to go longer.
Be easy on yourself. It takes time and patience to develop any new skill. Stick with it a little each day and before long you’ll begin seeing amazing results. A calmer, happier, healthier, more confident version of you is possible in only ten minutes a day. Go for it. You’re worth it!