5 mindfulness exercises to calm your anxiety: Breath Awareness
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Our breath is everything to us.
Just sit with that for a second.
Our breath is EVERYTHING to us.
Without it, we do not exist.
We go about our day and just rely on our breath to keep us going. And it does. Faithful and tirelessly, it keeps going.
So let us pay some homage to our breath and give it the awareness, love, and dedication that it deserves.
And it will continue to love us right back and fill us with gratitude, energy, and, most importantly, life.
Breath awareness is the backbone of mindfulness and meditation so it is the first mindfulness exercise that we will talk about. It feels simple and sounds simple in its description, but does take a lot of practice.
I RECOMMEND STARTING WITH A COUPLE MINUTES TO START IF MINDFULNESS IS NEW TO YOU.
Really, just start with 2 minutes. A lot of sites recommend starting with 5 minutes, but honestly, to me when I was starting out, 5 minutes FELT like forever. It may sound like nothing, but when you are just beginning with focusing on your breath, it seems like an eternity.
So start with 2 minutes. Set a timer (make sure that the alarm that goes off is something soothing and not an alarm that sounds like someone just pushed the end of the world button - you know the one I’m talking about) or download a meditation app that has a soothing gong at the end of it (I’ve used the Insight Timer - Meditation App previously).
Find a comfortable and quiet place. You can sit or lay down, whichever you choose. Just be comfortable and intentional with your body.
BRING YOUR ATTENTION TO YOUR BREATH AS IT FLOWS THROUGH YOU.
Without changing it in any way. Just notice how it feels as it flows in and out of you. Are you using your mouth or your nose? Do you use your nose on the in breath but your mouth on the outbreath? Just notice. Notice how your breath feels as it goes in and out.
Notice how it fills you with life as it goes in and out with ease.
Notice how your body responds to the breath. How your lungs, your belly, your muscles react to the fly of air and energy into your body.
WHEN YOUR MIND WANDERS, AND IT WILL, JUST SLOWLY BRING YOUR AWARENESS BACK TO YOUR BREATH.
When this happens for me, I tend to gravitate towards the sensations in my nose. I feel the breath going in through my nose and notice how it feels on my nostrils. Its a tangible sensation for me to grab hold of when my mind wants to think of a million other things (which is pretty much all the time).
If you’re new to meditating and mindfulness, you might find that you’ll focus beautifully for a short while and then you’ll notice that you’ve been focussing beautifully and then you’ll start congratulating yourself on how beautifully you’ve been focusing and then you’re now thinking entirely about how awesome you are at focusing beautifully on your breath that you are no longer focusing beautifully on your breath.
I PERSONALLY THINK THIS IS HILARIOUS ...
... and a wonderful part of the meditation process because you know what, you should cheer yourself on. Give yourself a couple breaths of congratulatory air and then slowly bring yourself back to your breath.
Continue to focus on your breath (and coming back to your breath when you stray) until your time is over.
Come out of your meditation slowly. Try not to just snap open your eyes and move on with your day and the hundred things on your to-do list. Slowly open your eyes and move your body around. Even if its just for a moment, reflect on how you feel, how your body feels, and if anything came up for you during the practice, reflect on it now.
AS YOU CONTINUE TO INTEGRATE MINDFULNESS INTO YOUR ROUTINE, YOU CAN SLOWLY INCREASE THE TIME YOU MEDITATE.
The longer you meditate the better, of course, but an optimal time is around 12 minutes, but don’t get discouraged if you have to hang out in the 5 minute mark for a little bit. No matter what you are doing, you are practicing, you are improving your self awareness, and, most importantly, you are growing in your love for yourself (even if its hard to see at first!).