This week, let our mindful mantra be: “Connect To Your Breath”
When I first heard this phrase in yoga classes, meditation and breath workshops, I giggled. As a physician, I thought it was silly to “connect to breath,” because we are breathing all day long, or we would not be alive. Then as I deepened my meditation and pranayama practices, I realized the difference. We are rarely aware of our breathing patterns. Paying attention to our breathing patterns is a cornerstone of mindfulness-based practices. As I advance my studies and understanding of the mind-body connection in healing, I discovered there is science behind the mindfulness and controlling our breathing.
It is easy to be sitting in a zen space like a yoga studio or ancient temple in Thailand monitoring our breath. I tried to welcome the practice into my daily life by adding meditation to my morning routine when I’d first wake up. That would all fall by the wayside if the pager went off, or if I am up all night with a writing deadline.
We all have moments daily that leave us feeling frazzled, unable to focus, or feeling fatigued by mid-afternoon at work. These are the exact moments to watch for- the moments when our emotions feel like they are out of our own control. When we reach this place, it’s an ideal time to connect to breath. This is the time when to stop and recite the mantra, “breathe”, as a reminder to consciously connect to breath.
How can we consciously connect to breath?
1. Breathing by the numbers
If we want to feel a sense a calm, inhale for a 3 count, hold the breath for 1 count and then exhale over a 5 count. If we are having difficulty focusing, even counting for a cycle of 5-10 inhalations/exhalations can refocus our thoughts.
2. Setting a regular time to meditate
Over time having a regular morning and evening meditation practice focusing on breath can help prevent the feeling of emotions being out of control. It doesn’t matter if thoughts come racing into the mind during meditation, just focus on the breath, and let the thoughts pass. Don't know how to start a meditation practice? Try guided meditation.
3. Give yourself a time out
By taking the time to stop and breathe, even if it is for one minute, we are giving our brains the time to hit the “reset” button through the autonomic nervous system. When we breathe we reset the stress response that is causing adrenaline to peak, emotions to soar and our heartbeat to race. In that one minute we can start to promote the brain’s relaxation response to bring on a sense of calm, control, and inner peace.
This week’s mantra is intended to serve as a reminder that a simple breath-based practice is available to bring you to the “present moment" that is calm and not chaotic.
Try it, and let me know how you feel. Recite the mantra: “I Connect To My Breath”
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