Be Healthy. Be Happy. Naturally.
2020 has certainly been a crazy year full of uncertainties. As a result, more of us are experiencing symptoms of anxiety including worry, tension, nervousness, fatigue, trouble focusing, obsessing, confusion, digestive issues, and insomnia. Certainly none of these things are comfortable. What is more concerning is if these symptoms continue unabated they may manifest into conditions more serious and chronic. So I’d like to share some techniques and habits that can help calm anxiety and help return you to center.
Today I would like you to think about how you breathe as the breath has an enormous effect on both the body and the mind. I’d like you to start by simply observing your breath during different times of the day If you are feeling anxious, your breath will tend to be more rapid and shallow. This is your body telling your mind that you are in danger and your mind telling your body to be ready to spring into action. Generally we do not need to fight off a tiger, but we might feel like our lives are threatened anyway. Today, we will focus on a simple technique that will help bring a sense of calmness and stability in a short period of time and with little effort.
Sit comfortably and simply observe your breath. You’ll notice that just by bringing your attention to the breath, it will slow down automatically and you will feel calmer.
Now, go ahead and put one hand on your belly and the other on your chest. Observe if the hand on your belly is moving in and out more or if the hand on your chest is. We want to eventually have the hand on your belly doing the expanding. At the beginning, just notice.
The next step is to keep your mind focused on the breath. Maybe visualize riding your breath as it comes in and as it moves out. You could be a little ball of fluff following your breath in, following your breath out. Let your mind rest on this awareness. If other thoughts come, that’s OK; notice them, let them go and bring your awareness back to following the breath. Now you have added the practice of mindfulness to your breathing.
Now, let’s breathe in to the count of five and then breath out to the count of five. You can count one, two, three, four, five. Or you can introduce a phrase that lasts a count of five. I use a mantra that happens to last a count of five. But you could use anything, for instance “I am breathing in and feeling calm, I am breathing out and feeling calm”.
Now bring your awareness to your tongue and place the tip on the back of your upper front teeth. This has been practiced for thousands of years by yogis and now we know that this stimulates the vagus nerve and brings calm! Just let the tongue rest there.
Practice this breathing for perhaps 10 or 15 minutes once or twice a day. What is lovely is you can bring your awareness to your breath at any time during the day (or night) and use any of the tips I just shared with you, and you will feel calmer. You can do it whenever you think of it. You do not need to be sitting with your hands on your belly and chest. You could be in line at the grocery store that is moving more slowly than you want. Just practice the breath. The more you practice, the more powerful, and automatic this will become for you. It is wonderful when you notice that after awhile when you are in any kind of stressful situation, you find your mind focusing on the breath all on its own. Your mind and your body want to be in balance.
So if you are feeling anxious, go ahead and focus on your breathing. If you are not feeling anxious, go ahead and focus on your breathing, too! Actually, the more you practice this breathing technique when you are feeling calm already, the less likely you will be to feel anxious, and the more effective it will be if you end up in the throes of anxiety.
So start with this one simple practice and see how it works for you.
I’ll be back with more techniques for you to add to your life to feel better, happier and even joyful
In the meantime, Namaste.
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