Mindful Breathing May Transform Your Life

Inhale through my nose. Close my eyes. Exhale through my slightly opened mouth. I pause, open my eyes and return to my normal breathing pattern.

How often do you take the time to simply breathe? Yes, breathe; focused, conscious breaths: mindful breathing.

Do you remember the time you were in a panic or frenzy and felt just completely derailed from all of your plans? Do you remember how you felt that heaviness on your chest and shoulders, as you tried to clear your brain fog away so you could simply remember the next step in survival? Do you remember that unconscious, human survival trait of taking an extremely deep breath in and exhaling it as you tried to not lose your mind?

It is hardwired within us to breathe for self soothing and healing. It is human nature. Just as women are encouraged to practice breathing techniques during labor, there is tremendous value in practicing mindful breathing every day.

What is mindful breathing? It is the concentration and focus on your every breath. Just as you would “keep your eye on the ball” in baseball or softball, you are “keeping your mind on the breath”.

Our brain tends to wander, which can lead to anxiousness and other unpleasant feelings. Imagine if you were playing softball and you continued to be distracted by the other team’s chants, or the wind blowing your hair, or the bugs flying around. Imagine you are up to bat, and instead of focusing on the ball, you are looking at the ball, the bugs, the players in the outfield, the people chattering in the stand, and creating questions in your mind surrounding each of those. Now imagine you are focusedI on the ball, knowing that everything surrounding you will be as it will be and is outside your control: there is no need for you to try to control it or focus on it right now, your only objective is to focus on the ball and make contact with it using your bat. Pure focus.

Imagine that scenario being your breathing. The results and your outcome depends on what you allow. Do you allow yourself to be thinking about your breathing, the dogs running by, the phone ringing, the sound of doors shutting, the pressing agenda, or anything else going on? Or do you allow yourself a minute, five minutes, of concentrated breathing, appreciating each breath as it is? It is natural to be distracted; practice allows you to return to your breathing and focus.

Mindful breathing, just like baseball and softball, takes practice. Remember that it took practice for you to walk, talk, crawl, chew, write, drive…. the list goes on. Some of the most incredible things we will ever do, takes practice. Every time you do it, you are instilling that deeper into your being. It takes discipline.

Mindful breathing has helped reduce anxiousness and restlessness. It has allowed an open feeling, like a weight taken off. It has allowed for a deeper concentration and awareness. It has been a positive, powerful impact on the mental and physical wellbeing.

To start you might feel distracted and need help. That is perfectly normal and okay! Here are a couple ideas to get you started:

1. Count your inhalation and exhalation.
The 4-7-8 breathing technique is a great one. Inhale through your nose 4 seconds. Hold the breath for 7 seconds. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a “whooshing” sound for 8 seconds. This is ONE breath cycle. Do this 4 or more times and feel the release of tension and stress from your body and mind.

2. Follow a guided visualization, meditation, breathing exercise.
There are a multitude of breathing meditations online that you can simply “press play” and lie down and focus as instructed. Simple. Easy. And extremely beneficial.
Here is one that I used recently: Breathing Meditation UCLA Mindful Awareness . It is simply one option of many resources you can find to practice.

The more you practice, the more disciplined you become in a wellness routine. You have 1,440 minutes in one day: Allow yourself even just 5 of those 1,440 minutes to practice this. Create a new family tradition and routine before bedtime to increase restful sleep and decrease bedtime anxiety with your children. Watch your life transform in a magnificant way. Your future self will thank you.

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