The Complete Guide to Breathing Meditation
Have you ever paid closer attention to the way you breathe when you feel relaxed? You can focus on your breathing the next time you wake up in the morning or just before you fall into sleep – it is deep, rhythmic, and even, like a well-functioning clockwork.
That’s precisely why mindful breathing techniques are a part of almost every form of meditation that has existed through the last millennia.
Ancient wisdom and modern science have no conflict when it comes to the effects of daily breathing exercises. They are proven to help you relax because they make your body feel precisely the way it feels when you are already relaxed. What’s more: they are simple to implement, easy to learn, and flawlessly effective against both long-term and immediate symptoms of stress, fatigue, anxiety, and burnout.
So, what kinds of breathing meditations can you start practicing right away, and how to do them correctly? Find out the fundamentals in the following paragraphs.
How Can Breathing Meditations and Practices Improve Your Well-being?
Breathing meditation is a positive, powerful, and completely natural way to help yourself in case you are going through various types of emotional and physical imbalance, including:
- Systemic exposure to high levels of stress;
- Dynamic and busy daily routine;
- States of fear, anxiety, and overexcitement;
- Worsened patterns and quality of sleep;
- Exhaustion and fatigue;
- Anger and other heavy emotions;
- And many, many others.
What about the science behind it? On a purely physical level, increased oxygen flow to the brain helps the nervous system’s proper function, thus improving cognitive capacity, strengthening concentration, and even relieving symptoms of physical pain.
On the mentally-emotional level, your daily minutes of mindful peace and quiet are a game-changer, and the only way to feel it tangibly is to give it a try and include it in your schedule, starting today.
Which are the Most Popular Types of Mindful Breathing?
With tens of breathing meditations, beginners can easily find themselves lost in abundance and feel challenged to pick the best approach to mindful breathing. So, which are the most popular and widely practiced ways to use your breathing in order to build lasting resilience?
- Shamatha is a mindful Buddhist meditation centered around full awareness of your breathing, just the way it is. Following and examining the tangible cycle of the breath as a purely physical sensation is all you need to do. That simple meditation is shown to improve one’s sustained awareness and even reverse age-related cognitive dissolution.
- Nadi Shodhana and Pranayama is a meditative practice arising from Hinduism. Also called alternate nostril yoga breathing, it includes inhaling through one of your nostrils and inhaling through the other one, then reversing sides and repeating the exercise. The practice is scientifically proven to increase alertness and reduce blood pressure when performed from 15 to 18 minutes.
- Intermittent breath retention, also known as Kumbhaka Pranayamas, is yet another breathing exercise that comes from Hinduism. Put shortly; it means holding your breath for a short time before exhaling it. Surprisingly, this mere three to five seconds of breath retention can increase your oxygen consumption by nearly 60%, thus entirely transforming the effectiveness of all your body systems at once.
- Diaphragm breathing, or Kundalini, is a Hinduistic breathing meditation that enables you to take in more air and decrease your oxygen demand. The practice is especially beneficial for people who suffer from shortness of breath and chronic respiratory issues. It includes lying on your back and taking deep breaths instead of short ones while trying to fill the air in the area or your stomach rather than your chest for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Zhuanqi is a Taoist breathing technique very similar to the Buddhist Shamatha. It aims to unite breath and mind by focusing on your breath until it is quiet and “soft.” It’s all about breathing with your abdominal muscles and diaphragm.
Are you still feeling a bit confused? Below, you will find a simple step-by-step guide for your daily 5-minute breathing meditation.
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A Simple 5-Minute Breathing Meditation Guide
So, here is all you need to do in order to perform the most common breath-awareness exercise in Buddhism:
- Place yourself comfortably – on a chair, on the floor, on your bed, or wherever suits you. Make sure your body feels relaxed, including your hands, torso, legs, and even tongue.
- Focus inwards towards your own body. Feel the touch of the surfaces, the physical experiences arousing from the senses, and the process of connecting with your tangible, material self.
- Tune into your breathing. The breath in, the breath out. The nostrils and the lungs. The filling of the abdomen and the diaphragm. Notice the beginning and the end of the breath, then the next one, and the one after it.
- Gently control your mind. The wandering mind is something very natural, especially if you’re a beginner. If you notice that happening, carefully redirect your thoughts back to your breathing without being too hard on yourself.
- Stay right there. Keep on focusing on your breath for as long as you can. Five minutes is just enough for beginners. As time passes, you can find yourself practicing your breathing meditations for twenty or more minutes at a time.
- Finish where you’ve started. Once again, when you’re ready to go, focus on your senses and the way you feel yourself and the world around you through your physical experiences.
Practicing this type of mindful breathing meditation for at least 15 minutes every day for at least a week can decrease stress, tension, and negative emotions. Also, the longer you meditate, the better the long-term results of your exercise would be.
Because fast living requires quality rest, and sometimes quality rest is just focusing on your body’s natural functions until you make them work to your advantage.