Mindful breathing by Peggy Benson
Inhale courage, exhale fear.
Our breath is our constant. As adults we take 12-16 breaths per minute.
When we are scared, angry or nervous our breath gets shallow and labored. The heart races, and our mind darts between thoughts. Mindful breathing can tame the inner chatter, slow our heart rate, and anchor us into the present moment. There’s scientific proof that breath work lowers blood pressure, improves sleep, and turns down the volume of anxiety. Countless songs have been written about breathing. The common threads are its sound and sensation—transforming turmoil into tranquility, fear into freedom.
Have you ever watched a baby sleep? A baby’s breath pattern is so natural, innate.
It puts a smile our faces, and most importantly stillness.
A pause. Quiet contemplation.
I took my first Ujjayi breath 19 years ago in a beginner’s yoga class. Ujjayi means victorious, oceanic breath in Sanskrit. Breathing in and filling my belly up creating expansion. Breathing out and squeezing my belly inward to void all the stale, negative air I was holding on to.
Hearing the sound of my breath and how it felt in my body were brand new. It was pure bliss. My breath has been my savior, guiding me through life’s murky waters. When I could not control my outer landscape, I could control my inner landscape. Responding to challenges instead of reacting. A powerful tool for change. Bringing clarity, focus, creativity, concentration, hope, faith and harmony to my mind, body and spirit.
When you free up space in your mind, you free up space in your life. Clearing the mind’s clutter is rejuvenating. You see your “space” (internal and external) in a whole different light. Things look crisper and colors look more vibrant. A change in perspective. Openness, positivity and joy enter in.
One of my favorite mindful breathing techniques is the snake breath. Kiddo’s love this. Take your thumb and place it at your third eye (the spot between your eyebrows). Inhale. As you exhale make a “shhh” or hissing sound as you move your hand in a wave motion to your chest. Repeat. This definitely works. It calms the crazy in my grandkids.
The next time you are stopped at a stoplight, during your lunch break, or before going to bed, explore a new breath pattern. Try the box breath, the 4-7-8 breath, or nadi shodhana (alternate nostril breath.) Use a mantra such as: “So Ham”, or “Om” to train your mind to slow down and allow the thoughts to float away. Feel the vibration of the mantra on your lips. Embrace the gentle rhythm. You will be amazed at how your world suddenly freshens up.
Right here, right now: Stop whatever you are doing. Place your hands on your heart and close your eyes. Let’s take a collective, mindful breath. Inhale, fill up, pause, exhale empty your breath out with a big sigh out. Doesn’t it feel wonderful?
Fresh, alive, and renewed.
The love and light that dwells within me, honors and cherishes the love and light that dwells within each and every one of you.