One of the most neglected — yet most effective — stress management tools is something we carry with us throughout every second of the day: our breath. Deep breathing exercises can have a profound impact on your state of mind, as well as improve the quality of your meditation practice. While allowing the breath to flow naturally throughout meditation is encouraged, intentionally taking a couple of deep breaths initially can help ground the mind and create space for growth.
For hundreds of years, Buddhists, yoga practitioners, and eastern healers have understood that the breath is the foundation of our life force and energy — which is why many meditation practices and yoga classes include a strong focus on deep breathing techniques. Today, researches show that breathing exercises can improve cognitive function, boost positive thought processes, and reduce symptoms of anxiety. How we breathe influences our entire being: our mental-emotional states, the nervous system, hormonal balance, muscular tension, and all the functions of body and mind. Bad habits cause strain and stress; good habits keep us strong and healthy and create a sense of well-being.
Breathing exercises for anxiety have been shown to improve symptoms of depression in addition to reducing the symptoms of anxiety. Numerous people have unintentionally become shallow breathers, which is a mindless breathing pattern where you inhale through the nose/mouth, hold the breath, and take in less air. Long-term shallow breathing can keep the body in a cycle of stress, affecting everything from mental to physical health and even susceptibility to illness. While we shouldn’t stay in an extended state of controlled breath, starting the practice for a few moments per day can make you more conscious of your habits outside of the exercise.
By taking conscious breaths we can remind ourselves that we are the observer and that thoughts are not facts, whether you are in a meditative state or conscious state. By learning to meditate consistently you will slowly unravel that the voice in your head that you have been identifying yourself with, is nothing but a machine of its own. A brilliant machine, the more you detach from it you will realize that there will be times it will have its hiccups — those 'mind farts' as I like to call them are not you — you are the observer of the 'mind farts'.
If your lose your focus during your meditation practice, get lost in your thoughts, feel the sudden urge to laundry or pay your bills while meditating, use your breath to come back. Regardless of how many times this occurs, your breath is your anchor alongside with the guided meditation. Don't judge yourself, this is a process – you are learning something new.
To put this in perspective, when a child is born we do not expect it to come out of the mother's womb walking. After the child has learned the process of crawling, the child begins to learn to stand, this is a process of its own. The child grabs an elders' hands, perhaps grab a furniture as it pushes itself up, and even after taking its first step the child wobbles until the balance is in place – through practice. Please extend yourself the same compassion and patience — you were once that child, you are learning something new and that takes time.
conscious anchor - setting a intention
Before starting, it is important to gain clarity of your intention. This will be your conscious anchor, whenever the shadow aspect of the ego creeps into steering you limiting beliefs such as “I am too tired, I’ll do it tomorrow“ or “I don’t have time,“ or other procrastinating thoughts, your anchor will serve you as a grounding tool and remind you of why you began this journey in the first place.
Your anchor does NOT have to be some profound intention. In fact, to serve here as an expander and show that I transcended my limiting beliefs through the intention that I just wanted to FEEL better. I was not a morning person, especially not in the middle of pitch-black dark mornings a lá Swedish winter-time. The snooze button was a good friend of mine. Some mornings I was too tired to get up, yet dedicated to my WHY, so I plugged in my earphones and meditated in bed before getting up. I believe that if there is a will, there is a way. If you want to find excuses not do it, you will find them. My intention to FEEL better was of the highest importance, I was fed up with living in sorrow, feeling anxious and having panic attacks following me around. Deep down I knew that life isn’t meant to feel sucky, although I only carried sucky emotions and negative thought patterns.
During these following seven weeks together I want to focus on feeling, instead of thinking to cultivate a deeper sense of love and compassion. The path of connecting to our spirituality is through our hearts, that’s why we need to become more familiar with getting in touch with it. As today's modern age forces us to be in our heads, making decisions all the time, planning, and so forth, we’re naturally prone to be in our heads. This assisted us in losing touch with our bodies and feelings. We identify ourselves with our thoughts when we think a thought we automatically THINK which means it’s true. Even when we are thinking unkind things about ourselves, which is clearly far from the truth.
That is why I’ve designed this 7-week meditation workshop to unblock the false ideas about meditation and to assist in the process with guided meditations and written exercises back to the heart. What you simply need is to sit down, set aside15 minutes today and I will guide you through it.
If you have any emotions coming to the surface please know that it is very common too. Share them in the private Facebook group. I will talk more about this along the process. Please remember it's all about just doing it... some days will feel easier than others, but that is ok. Just stay with it, observe and let it happen. Let it unfold. But for now, make yourself comfortable and sit/lay down and breath with me.
Take a few deep breaths and rest your attention on you heart-space
While resting your attention on your heart, tune in and ask yourself what your intention is with this practice
Journal for 5-10 minutes what your intention is to become a consistent practitioner of meditation and self-compassion
This is a safe community, created to encourage communication between each other and to share experiences. Please leave questions and comments in The Atelier The Ché Private Facebook Group for your fellow meditators to respond based on their personal experience. Constructive and nurturing feedback only! Sara will not be answering comments or questions or navigating your personal circumstances. Those can be done in a session.