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Mindful Breathing: Exploring Different Breathing Exercises to promote present moment awareness

Updated: Jun 21, 2023

Part 2 of 10 in The Mindfulness Series

My mindful practice today led me to question all the ways we get in our own way and how it can show up as the need to control. Today my practice focused on breath awareness, simply using the breath as an anchor to the present moment, coming back as often as needed when the mind wandered, and doing so with kindness. If you’ve ever sat and intentionally observed your breath with non-judgment, curiosity, and kindness, even for 10 minutes, you understand this is no easy feat!


But, as we venture on this journey of mindfulness, how do we make it harder on ourselves? I’ll tell you, by adding in the opposite of those abovementioned qualities. We judge ourselves with “shoulds”, we become rigid in our relationship with the mind, and we grasp, not trusting in the breath. I realized during my practice, like many of you have, that things will be just fine when we simply allow them to be. My breath, my mind, and my heart all function the way they were intended, and I too have this same opportunity to lean into stillness, relaxation, and peace through this sacred practice.


Between professional demands and our personal lives, finding moments of peace and calm can be challenging. Fortunately, mindful breathing techniques provide a powerful tool to cultivate inner tranquility. And who doesn’t need more of that? In this blog post, we will explore three effective techniques: diaphragmatic breathing, box breathing, and mindful breathing meditations. By incorporating these practices into your daily routine, you can experience a profound sense of relaxation and heightened self-awareness.


Diaphragmatic Breathing:


Diaphragmatic breathing, also known as belly breathing, focuses on deep inhalation and exhalation. This technique engages the diaphragm muscle, allowing for increased oxygen intake and better overall relaxation. To practice diaphragmatic breathing:


Find a comfortable position and place one hand on your abdomen.


Inhale deeply through your nose, allowing your belly to rise as you fill your lungs with air.


Exhale slowly through your mouth, feeling your abdomen sink back down.


Repeat this process, focusing on the sensation of breath flowing in and out of your body.



Box Breathing:


Box breathing is a technique widely used by athletes, military personnel, and those seeking immediate stress relief. It involves a rhythmic pattern of breath retention, allowing for enhanced focus and mental clarity. Follow these steps to practice box breathing:


Sit in a relaxed position and close your eyes.


Inhale deeply through your nose, counting to four.


Hold your breath for a count of four.


Exhale slowly through your mouth, counting to four.


Hold your breath again for a count of four.


Repeat this cycle, visualizing a square as you progress through each stage of the breath.


"Just stopping, is a radical act of sanity and love."

– Jon Kabat-Zinn



Mindful Breathing Meditations:


Mindful breathing meditations involve observing the breath without judgment or attachment. By directing your attention solely to the sensation of breathing, you can cultivate a deep sense of presence and calm. Here's a simple mindful breathing meditation you can try:


Sit or lie down in a quiet space, allowing your body to relax.


Focus your attention on your breath, noticing the sensations as air enters and leaves your body.


If your mind wanders, gently bring your attention back to the breath without judgment.


Continue this practice for a few minutes or as long as you desire, gradually extending the duration with practice.


We have included a brief guided meditation that focuses on breath awareness below.


Conclusion:


Incorporating mindful breathing techniques into your daily routine can have profound effects on your overall well-being. The power of diaphragmatic breathing, box breathing, and mindful breathing meditations lies in their ability to anchor your attention to the present moment, fostering relaxation and self-awareness. Whether you choose to practice these techniques individually or combine them, consistent engagement will unlock a greater sense of inner calm and clarity in your life.


Remember to carve out dedicated time each day to nurture your practice. As you become more proficient, these techniques will become valuable tools to manage stress, enhance focus, and embrace the present moment fully. Embark on this journey of mindful breathing, and watch as tranquility becomes an integral part of your life.




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