Mindfulness is more than just a trendy buzzword that’s been in the news the last few years. The concept behind the methodology is thousands of years old. The roots of mindfulness are steeped in Buddhist traditions, as well as Zen and Tibetan meditation techniques. In addition to relaxation, mindfulness has been known to combat depression and minimise pain.
Mindful breathing and meditation can take years to master because of how our brains are innately wired. It is not intuitive for us to live in the moment for too long before ruminating on past events or forecasting future outcomes. Mindful breathing reminds us to stop and live in the present. It does so by having us concentrate on our breathing, while at the same time maintaining focus and being non-judgemental about our technique. Self-compassion is a big key to mindfulness.
To begin mindful breathing, find a comfortable place to sit. Some people like to use guided meditation, and others use music. Depending on your schedule, you can choose to either set a timer or not. Assess how your body feels, and make sure that your breathing isn’t restricted. Once you are comfortable, begin by taking in slow breaths. As you breathe, take the time to focus on noticing your breath, but do so without judgement. Notice whether it’s long or short, and where it’s coming from as it moves up your body. Count to yourself as you inhale, and then count again as you exhale. The most important thing to remember is to observe yourself without judgement. In addition, mindfulness exercises should be done one-mindfully. This is a difficult skill to master and another time to practise self-compassion. If you feel your mind drifting elsewhere, it’s important to acknowledge it, be proud of yourself for noticing, then pull yourself back into your mindful meditation. There are no wrong thoughts or emotions. Remind yourself to stay in the present and resume breathing.
As you breathe, feel how the rest of your body is being affected. Many relaxation techniques include giving yourself a mental body scan, assessing how you feel from the tips of your toes to the top of your head. Feel how parts of your body change as you breathe.
After you are done, give yourself time to reacclimate slowly. Take a moment to do another body scan to see how you feel.
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