Let’s begin by making sure our eyes are closed and then take a slow, deep breath, filling our lungs completely, visualizing their expansion and feeling the chest broaden. Once the lungs are filled, slowly exhale, completely emptying out the lungs. Take another five to ten breaths in the same way and try your best to stay focused on the breath going in and out of your lungs. This is not only helping us stay in the present moment, but it’s allowing the lungs to take in slightly more breath each time. Moreover, the mind has something specific to focus on and some place to come to when it gets distracted or begins daydreaming during the session.
Breathing Through the Nose
Next, try and breathe just through the nasal passages, keeping the mouth closed. If this is too challenging, perhaps because your nose is clogged, then feel free to use the mouth. I don’t want anyone to feel suffocated because they’re not able to breathe properly. If you’re able to only breathe through the nose, feel the cool breath going in and filling your lungs completely then breathe out the breath that has been warmed up by your body. As you’re inhaling and exhaling, feel the cool breath entering the body and the warmer breath leaving the body. Continue for another five to ten breaths.
We want not only our lungs to get involved in the breathing process, but also our belly. During inhalation, we should feel the belly rising and relaxing during the exhalation. This is described by Harvard Health as “diaphragmatic” or “abdominal breathing” and that it can “slow the heartbeat and can lower or stabilize blood pressure.” Who would have thought our breath could impact our health to such a degree.
Holding the Breath
Now we’re going to practice holding our breath for very short periods of time. When we hold our breath, the body will start to tense up a little bit. One of our goals is to take notice as we tense up and then relax ourselves while we are holding our breath. This is a great exercise that trains our minds to stay relaxed during times of conflict and disagreement. Generally, during stressful moments, our muscles in our face and body start tensing up. However, it’s important to know that even in those moments we have the power to keep ourselves calm and relaxed. Once we learn to do this, we can approach each difficult situation with more ease and clarity.
Let’s begin by taking a deep breath in, filling the lungs completely, and holding our breath for three seconds. While in the process of holding the breath, try and relax your face, neck, back and the rest of your body and then exhale. Once you’ve exhaled completely, hold your breath again. You want to hold your breath while your lungs are empty, which may seem a little more difficult. Hold it for three seconds and then take another deep breath and hold your breath for four seconds. Try your best to not tense up and then exhale. Hold your breath for four seconds once you’ve completely exhaled and then take another breath and hold for five seconds and do the same after exhaling. If for any reason it’s too difficult to hold your breath for more than one or two seconds, that’s completely fine. The idea is to relax yourself and not do the opposite.
One interesting fact to note, is that the mind doesn’t wander off during the time we are holding our breath, it actually stays put. I’m not sure why this happens. Perhaps it’s wondering when you’re going to start breathing again. This provides an indication that there is an interesting connection between our mind and our breath.