Mind & Spirit | 6 September 2016Meditation Made Simple: Basic Breathing Share article facebook twitter google pinterest Start your meditation practice off on the right foot by learning these breathing practices from Meditation Made Simple. This basic breathing technique is officially known as diaphragmatic breathing, but you can think of it simply as a “calming breath.” It’s the most common method psychologists use to effectively treat stress, anxiety, and insomnia. Many people find that it becomes their go to technique for lowering stress levels and preparing mind and body for meditation. TECHNIQUE 1. This technique can be practiced while sitting, lying on your back, or even while standing. Your eyes may be either open or closed, whichever feels right to you. 2. Take a moment to loosen and soften your body, especially the shoulders, upper chest, and jaws. Bring your awareness to each of these parts of the body. Then relax any tenseness or tightness you find there. Imagine your breath softening any knots or tight areas. 3. Bring your awareness to your breath, and focus on breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth. 4. Now, begin to lengthen your breath to a 6-second cycle: that is, breathe in for 3 seconds and out for 3 seconds. 5. Rest one hand on your belly and the other on your chest.* 6. As you inhale through your nose, let your waist and stomach expand outward. The hand on the abdomen should rise. In contrast, the hand on your chest should hardly move at all. 7. As you exhale slowly through your mouth, the abdomen should move downward, or flatten, as it naturally contracts. In contrast, the hand on your chest should hardly move at all. This completes one round. Repeat steps 4 through 7 as many times as you wish. When you are finished, relax both arms and breathe naturally for a few moments before opening your eyes, if you’ve closed them. INTERMEDIATE OPTIONS When you’re confident with the basics of relaxed breathing, you can begin to change the timing of your breath, introduce pauses or holds (known as kumbhaka in yoga), and learn to isolate and activate different muscles within the torso. As you explore these intermediate techniques, always be sure to prioritize smooth, even breathing. TIMING Aim to increase (and eventually double) the length of your exhalation in comparison to your inhalation. For example, IN: 2 and OUT: 4 or IN: 3 and OUT: 6. PAUSING Introduce gentle pauses at the end of the inhalation and at the end of the exhalation. For example, IN: 4, HOLD: 2, OUT: 6, HOLD: 2 PRACTICE TIPS Aim to practice this technique for 3 to 5 minutes at least once, but preferably twice, per day. Buy from an Online Retailer US: UK: All the benefits of meditation in just minutes a day! For thousands of years, gurus have claimed that meditation yields incredible benefits from peace of mind to supernatural abilities. Today, science is proving that a regular meditation practice has profound and measurable benefits in reducing stress, alleviating chronic pain, and promoting happiness. Even celebrities, politicians, and business leaders are touting meditation as a critical tool in keeping their edge mentally and creatively. Meditation is a diverse practice with hundreds of schools, philosophies, and techniques. But it doesn’t have to be complicated. You don’t need to study for years, find an ashram, or practice for hours a day. You can start getting the benefits of meditation right now – in just minutes! The weekly format in Meditation Made Simple keeps techniques basic with philosophy and science on a “need-to-know” basis. The best of the best: 52 lessons in core meditation techniques and concepts. Several schools and traditions of meditation: Learn fundamental practices such as breath meditation, mantra meditation, mindfulness, and body scanning. Unique approach: Teaches practices in a way that lets you learn quickly and apply immediately. Simply do one lesson a week – or pick one that appeals to you. Share article facebook twitter google pinterest If you have any comments on this article please contact us or get in touch via social media.