As you’re reading this blog you are breathing. Without consciously doing it, your diaphragm contracts, moves downward, increasing the space in your chest cavity. Your lungs expand bringing oxygen into the body when breathing in, and sending carbon dioxide out of the body when breathing out. Amazing, isn’t it? A lot of us don’t even think about what a miracle this really is! Sitting still with our breath is a great place to start cultivating a mindfulness practice.
What does mindfulness mean? Mindfulness is a therapeutic technique to bring your awareness to the present moment. You become aware and acknowledge the thoughts and bodily sensations that are occurring for you within the present moment. Not to judge or change any of them, just to be aware. Studies show that mindful breathing helps in stress reduction and strengthens mental clarity and decision making while under emotional stress. Let’s face it, life has its fair share of peaks and valleys and the more peace we cultivate within ourselves, the better we handle the external storms that inevitably arise.
- Find a comfortable space. Sit or lie on your back and let your arms and hands rest in a relaxed position and close your eyes.
- Focus your attention on your body by noticing how you’re feeling physically. Scan your body from head to toe and consciously try to let any tension slip away. Are you holding any tension in your shoulders or is your jaw clenched? Just notice the sensations in your body without judgement.
After that, bring your attention to your breathing:
–First, notice the sensation of your breath going in and out of your nostrils.
–Second, pay attention to the rise and fall of your chest.
–Third, notice the rise and fall of your belly as you breath.
- As you move throughout this exercise, it’s totally normal for thoughts to come into your awareness such as: “I don’t have time for this!”, “Is this even working?”, or “I’m not good at this”. Let them flow in, acknowledge them, but then focus back to your breath. When you’re first starting a mindfulness practice, it’s normal for your mind may wander a lot in the beginning. And that’s okay! Don’t judge if you are doing it “right or wrong” – Just come back to your breath. The more you practice, the quieter your mind becomes.
- If you find it helpful, you can count to 3 while you inhale and count to 3 when you exhale to take bigger, deeper breaths.
Having a daily mindfulness practice such as mindful breathing (even if just for 5 minutes a day) can lead to lower anxiety, internal peace, and positive thinking. I love doing this in the morning when I wake up paired with 1 dropper full of 300mg ATLrx tincture, and diffusing my favorite essential oils.
What is your morning routine?