Okay so it is Monday morning, the alarm has gone off and the week is beginning. How many of us wake with a sense of feeling overwhelmed, overburdened and on the repetitive walking ‘travelator’ of life?
As a mindfulness teacher I am often asked for easy tips people can use to help them feel calmer, more in control and less stressed. Monday mornings are a good place to start, setting your week with a good intention, even to practice a little mindfulness is a positive!
So quite simply I use a great practice called Belly Breathing which is a natural way of breathing… and it really is that simple …. have a read through, try it out in the car, before a meeting, on the train, at your desk, before seeing your Ex, whilst the kettle is boiling, in a supermarket queue, on your lunch break … belly breath with your kids or at work… This little baby is great at anchoring ourselves into a more present moment state of awareness and can help give us respite from repetitive ruminating thoughts and worries.
Try to practice this as often as possible, write the magic numbers down on post it notes around your home, office or in the car to remind you to practice ….
If you can find a quiet place to sit. Once you’re comfortable, place one palm gently around the area of your navel and the other palm on your chest. Continue to breathe normally and notice the movements of your hands. Does the hand on your belly move as you breathe in and out? And what about the hand on your chest? Which one moves the most – the hand
on your belly or your chest? If the hand on your chest is moving but not your belly, you are breathing in a shallow way.
By learning belly breathing, you’re likely to feel more relaxed and have more energy, as your body will be fed with more oxygen. If it helps, think of a baby or a young child breathing, you’ll see that their belly, seems to expand and contract slowly and smoothly as they breathe in and out.
Begin by imagining there is a balloon in your belly….When you breathe in you’re inflating that balloon…. And when you breathe out, that balloon deflates ….. Now breathe in so that you fill the imaginary balloon in your belly as much as possible….Hold your breath for about two seconds and then breathe out as slowly and smoothly as you can using your mouth, as if you are blowing through a straw….. now let your breath be normal and natural again.
Notice how you feel. That was one belly breath. It was more exaggerated than a natural belly breath, but this technique helps to engage your relaxation response helping you counteract any feelings of stress. Just taking one breath in this way can help you to find some relaxation when you are feeling tense.
Now you can try counting as you do a belly breath. On your next in breath, breathe deeply and smoothly, expanding your belly as you slowly count to four ..1..2..3..4 hold for a count of two .. 1..2.. and now slowly exhale to a count of six 1..2..3..4..5..6 and now breathe as you normally do….just notice how you feel this time….by extending the amount of time you breathe out compared to breathing in, you encourage your body to relax and your mind to calm….Your breath has a direct link to the systems in your body that make you feel relaxed.
Belly breaths, send signals to your body that it is safe for you to feel relaxed and at ease. Your blood pressure goes down, your muscles relax and you think in a more positive and creative way.
So the magic numbers to remember are …. 4, 2 and 6 …. easy ….
Notice how you feel now. Consider how relaxed you feel. Are you more or less relaxed than when you started? If you’re less relaxed, try not to worry or judge yourself as to whether you breathed correctly, if this is the first time you have tried this technique, like everything it comes with a little practice.
Try to use a few belly breaths any time you feel excessively stressed or overwhelmed, to help you feel more calm, relaxed and in control.
Give yourself permission to belly breathe for 5-10 mins a day for two weeks or so and see what effect it has.
A little mindfulness is better than no mindfulness …
**I am very excited that my blog is being updated very shortly with a whole new look and I am currently recording webinars for a course designed to empower, guide and help you through your divorce ….