“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life.”
― Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment
The Oxford Learners Dictionary defines mindfulness as the mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.
Mindfulness is a part of establishing a routine to reduce stress and anxiety, to seek inner peace, and even for a chance to check in with oneself. When one combines mindfulness with focused breathing it can deepen the practice. Breathing is the body's life force — the body inhales air to our lungs and cells; when we exhale, the body releases carbon dioxide.
Mindful breathing is focused attention on gentle breathing — breathing in and breathing out. The mind and body connection to your breath is about being aware of the breath in that moment. The present moment is all that matters, paying close attention to your thoughts and emotions.
- Mindfulness breathing benefits:
- Reduce stress and anxiety
- Develop coping strategies
- Reduce anger
- Less reactive
- Memory improvement
- Less distractions
- Heightened awareness
- Regulate emotions
- Enhanced attention
- Pain management
- Sleep improvement
- Become centered and grounded
To start off with mindfulness breathing, it recommends starting with 5 minutes a day. As practice increases, the longer the mindfulness breathing practice can become. Each person will have a time in their day that works for them; perhaps it is right when they wake up, or at the end of the exercise routine, or maybe it is just before going to bed. There is no right or wrong answer.
To get started some might seek out guided meditations. I found that the Calm app, Insight Timer app, and YouTube have a great selection of guided mindfulness breathing meditations.
Quick mindfulness breathing techniques:
- In a seated position or lying in a comfortable position
- If seated, back should be upright
- You can keep your eyes open, or you can close them
- You do not need to focus on anything in particular
- Start to inhale slowly and exhale slowly
- Focus on your breath
- Breath in through your nostrils, and exhale through your mouth
- Notice the rise and fall of your chest
- Notice the rise and fall of your belly
- Notice the sensation of your breath when you breath in through your nostrils
- Notice how your body calms as you breath out through your mouth
- Breath in everything positive and calming
- Breath out everything negative and worrisome
- If your mind wanders, bring your attention back to your breath
The goal for mindfulness breathing is to let go of all things judgmental, and to all thoughts and emotions to come and go as they please. Do not hold on to anything, be present and allow the release.
“As you breathe in, cherish yourself. As you breathe out, cherish all beings.”
– Dalai Lama