Every now and then, I get caught up in what I’m doing and forget to breathe. To really breathe intentionally.
It’s a little hard to explain, but I have often found myself taking shallow breaths, or even holding my breath, at certain times or during specific instances throughout the day. Usually, it happens in high pressure situations or when I’m trying to accomplish a stressful task. And it feels awful, because our bodies were meant for oxygen and life-giving breath.
Today’s intention is to be mindful of your breath. Do you find yourself holding your breath or not breathing as deeply as you should?
Questions to ask yourself might be, when does this happen, how often, or what is typically happening around me when I am not taking full breaths?
Breath is essential for life. It’s also one way we can help relax the brain and the body.
Once you’ve established the specific circumstances in which you hold your breath, you must practice reversing this by being intentional with your breath.
There are many different methods to use, but simply starting slow will help establish a new pattern of breathing.
First, put aside what you are doing and set an intention to focus on your breath for five minutes. Be aware of how you come in to this exercise. Are you stressed, anxious, happy, content, or is there another emotion to describe how you are feeling. Simply note this and begin the exercise.
Close your eyes and notice if your breath is shallow. Are you breathing as deeply as you should? Answering this will help you to establish a sense of awareness about how you breathe throughout your day.
Next, close your eyes and just notice the breath- don’t do anything about it yet. Take a minute to breathe as you normally would.
Once you have established your breathing pattern for the moment, begin to breathe deeply. Inhale for four, allowing the air to fill your lungs. Imagine the air is seeping into your belly after you have filled your lungs. Your belly should start to stick out. This is deep diaphragmatic breathing. Slowly exhale to the count of six – feeling the breath leave your lungs and float away. As you exhale, imagine that all of the stress you are carrying is disappearing into thin air.
Repeat this sequence ten times.
Note how you feel.
Was there a change in your emotional state? Are you better focused or more relaxed?
Setting this intention for breath is the first step in becoming aware of how you process stress or work through every day life. Your breath says a lot about how you hold tension in the body, but it is also the key to releasing the hold stress has on you.
Come back to this practice once more today. Taking a few minutes out of your day to relax like this begins to challenge your typical breath patterns and opens up the space for you to practice establish news ways of breathing.