by Cara Michele Nether, L.Ac.,M.Ac., NADA RT
We take breathing for granted. Taking deep breaths fills your blood with oxygen. Oxygen is essential for cell functioning all over the body — and the brain is no exception. Without proper oxygen levels, it can be hard to concentrate during meetings, think clearly about your family’s schedule, remember details concerning elderly parents medications or come up with creative solutions that could bring you a moment of peace.
Learning to breathe intentionally is so easy that I often teach my clients a technique during their acupuncture or nutrition counseling session. It not only helps you to think and improves your memory, but it also reduces anxiety symptoms and allows you to move through your day with more ease.
Here is a simple technique that is easy to learn and can be done any time.
1. With your lips closed, inhale slowly through your nose. As you inhale, envision your abdomen as a balloon that is being inflated with the breath that you are bringing in.
2. When your abdomen is fully extended, exhale either out of your mouth or your nose. Your stomach should relax and squeeze the last bit of air out at the end.
Because breathing is a natural part of everyday life, you can do this any time you are feeling tight or overwhelmed and no one will ever notice — in front of people during a meeting, when the kids are out of control or when you have a big decision to make. You can also step away from everyone when you feel like you’re going to explode and you need to compose yourself.
Turn this in to a meditation: Breeze through the flowers
In a quiet and comfortable space, sit with your lower back pressed against the back of your chair and your feet on the floor. With your lips closed, inhale slowly through your nose. As you inhale, envision your abdomen as a balloon that is being inflated with the breath that you are bringing in. As you do this notice the air that you are drawing in over the skin on your upper lip moving though the tiny hairs located there. As you exhale through your nose, continue noticing the movement of the air over the skin on your lip and through the tiny hairs there.
In order to notice the feeling of the air moving through these very fine hairs, all of our attention has to be on that feeling at that moment. We have to focus on just that one thing. It is ok that our mind wants to wander and think of other things. That is what our mind does. As you notice thoughts about dinner or a big work project, acknowledge them and leave them right where they are. Then refocus on your breath moving through the hairs or fields of flowers. By not struggling to make your thought go away and refocusing your mind instead, you can slowly train your mind to stay quiet and clam.
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