Mindful Breathing and, Why You Need it.
Being mindful is not rocket science or some weird concept of a woo-woo religion or spiritual practice. Mindfulness means paying attention on purpose, without judgment in the present moment, and with a kind, compassionate awareness.
Mindfulness can be as simple as practicing breathwork and centering your being that helps to refocus your energy and life force, or it can include meditations. Living in the present, letting go of the past, and releasing the future's anticipation can help us live a more peaceful life.
We all have moments of anxiety and nervousness, and when in those moments, our breathing becomes shallower, and we breathe faster. This shallow breathing can lead to problems such as dizziness, increased heart rate, and muscle tension, to name a few. When we are anxious, we tend to breathe from our chest, taking fast, shallow breaths, which can cause distress in how our bodies process oxygen and carbon dioxide, which can lead to increased heart rate, and blood pressure. By practicing deep breathing, our body's parasympathetic system can prevent this reaction and return the body to a relaxed state of calm during stressful situations. Yes, it is being mindful of your breath, paying attention, bringing awareness into your life of what you are experiencing at that moment, allowing yourself a few minutes of peace.
How do you do this? Very simply. First, sit down in a comfortable chair, spine straight but not uncomfortably so. Place your feet flat on the floor so that you know you are grounded and "rooted" as if rooted to the earth. Place your hands in your lap with your palms up relaxed, without tension in them. Rest your eyes or close them. Breathe. Breathe in your own natural rhythm, nothing big or over the top; just breathe. Just observe. With my clients, we practice breathing in on 4 counts and releasing or exhaling on a 7 count. By exhaling on a 7 count, it slows you down. Slowing down is a good thing - even if only for a minute or two. As you become aware of your breath moving in through your nose – just notice the air passing through your nostrils down into your lungs. You are taking in new energy that will provide your body and spirit with what it needs on every inhale. On every exhale, you expel that old, used energy; it has done its job; it has circulated through your system, and now it no longer serves you. The idea is awareness and bringing your focus into your body. Repeat this for 1 minute, and then over time, add a few more minutes. When you are ready, slowly open your eyes, wiggle your fingers and toes, and then you can begin your day or return to whatever you are doing.
It's a simple practice. Practice when you are overwhelmed, when you are feeling anxious, afraid, worried, or tense. This practice can be especially helpful when a person is grieving the loss or multiple losses of loved ones. Slow down, bring yourself to the present, lower your blood pressure and heart rate, lower your levels of stress, reduce lactic acid buildup, which causes muscle tension. Allow yourself to increase your feelings of well-being and calm so that you can do the daily tasks of living.
Being Mindful is a good thing. Mindful breathing is an added bonus.