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Why Breathe?

2 Mar

Why is breathing so important in a mindfulness practice? We breathe all the time. And we often do it with very little thought. It just comes naturally. But the breath is an important part of being in the present moment. While practicing a mindfulness meditation exercise the breath is often used as an anchor to the present moment. The most basic form of a mindfulness meditation involves closing your eyes (sitting, standing or laying down) and focusing on the breath. Every time that the mind wanders from your point of focus, bring it back to the breath. Mindfulness meditation involves a continual re-focusing on the breath.

The practice of following the breath is very healing. Over time, the body and mind begin to slow down. By engaging in this practice you are actually training your brain to learn to focus in the moment and to stay present. The mindfulness practice is particularly useful for people who have very busy, active minds that are always on the go (which is most of us!)

The breath is also very important in helping to ground you to the present moment in your day-to-day living. When you find yourself caught up in endless chatter in the mind, or you find that your mind has taken you somewhere you do not want to go, return your focus to your breath. Breathe consciously for a few minutes. Then resume whatever it is you are doing. You may be surprised by just how helpful this can be.

Connecting to the breath is also a very powerful tool in dealing with intense emotions. When you feel an emotion very strongly whether it be fear, anger, or sadness- you can help yourself cope with this emotion by turning your attention to your breath. Notice the breath moving in and out of your body. Let your focus stay there for a while and ride the waves of your breathing. Remember your breath is a part of you that is always available. It can help you get centered in the present moment and it can see you through the tough times.

Mindfulness- What Is It?

19 Feb


Much recent attention has been given to the practice of Mindfulness. However, this practice is far from new. Essentially, mindfulness is about living more of your life in the present moment. It is about being awake to your life as you are living it, instead of spending excessive amounts of time in the future or past.

Many people get caught up in regrets and ruminations about the past.  Although it can be helpful to reflect on the past, it is often detrimental to spend too much time there.  If you spend most of your time reflecting and regretting the past, you are likely to feel sad and depressed. Alternatively, people are also prone to spending a great deal of time in future-oriented thinking. You may spend time planning, strategizing or worrying about what may lie ahead. Although some future planning and thinking is important, too much of it can have a negative impact on your well-being. People who are overly future-oriented tend to suffer from excessive anxiety.

There are real benefits to living more of your life in the present moment. The key to getting there is the use of your breath. It is your breath that can anchor you in the here and now. Sound like a good idea? I will elaborate more on mindfulness and how you can use it to improve your life in posts to come…