While mindful breathing isn’t for everyone, it’s a great way to explore mindfulness and its benefits. It's important to note that if you're suffering from PTSD, experiencing psychosis or are getting over some significant life event, you should consult with your doctor or health care professional before proceeding.
Getting started with mindfulness through breathing
If you're just starting out, try 2 or 3 minutes to begin with. Then, as you get more comfortable you can adjust the timing. Ultimately, you'll have to experiment and find the best duration that works for you.
Mindful breathing steps:
Firstly, find a comfortable spot and eliminate as many distractions as possible.
Set a timer for the duration you're going to attempt some mindful breathing. As mentioned, begin with 2-3 minutes.
Sit comfortably and close your eyes.
Through your nose, breathe in for a count of 4 seconds.
Hold your breath briefly, for 2 seconds, then exhale through your mouth for 6 seconds.
Repeat continuously: inhale 4 seconds; hold 2 seconds; exhale 6 seconds.
Bring your attention to the sensation of your breath, as it enters and leaves your body.
Notice how it feels - is there a temperature difference in the air? Does it feel cool as it enters through your nose? How do your lungs feel as they fill up? How do the muscles of your waist feel as you inhale and exhale?
You might find that your mind begins to wander. That's ok, it's normal. When the body is still, your mind becomes active. Instead of getting frustrated, or trying to ignore these thoughts, just acknowledge them.
Let them pass, just drifting briefly through your mind. You might like to return your focus to your breathing.
Enjoy the sensations as you breathe and your body and mind relax.
Continue until your timer goes off.
Take your time adjusting yourself back into your day. You may like to sit for a moment before getting up and going about your business.
Developing your mindful breathing practice
There you go, your first attempt at mindful breathing successfully completed! You might find you like to set your timer for a little longer on your next attempt. Or not.
Patience is key - avoid trying to go for too long too soon. It's best to avoid big jumps in duration if you are still new to mindful breathing.
You might find instead of feeling relaxed, you grow frustrated if you sit there for too long before you are ready. 3 minutes a few times a week is certainly enough to get you started.
Next in the series, Mindful Walking