Welcome to Week Two!
This week we’re diving more deeply into mindful breathing. Instead of just the 3 mindful breaths, in today’s message I invite you to experience how it feels to breathe mindfully, for a full minute.
But before we go into that, I need to ask you a question:
Have You Forgotten How To Breathe?
Take a moment to notice where in your body you’re breathing right now.
I know that sounds like a strange question: “Where are you breathing?” But, for most of us, it’s somewhere near the upper chest, shoulder or the throat area.
To test where you’re breathing: place your hand over your diaphragm – that is the bit of your belly above your belly button – and notice whether or not it moves when you’re breathing for the next few moments. Still can’t quite tell? Look in the mirror and see whether your shoulders or upper chest are moving.
Most of us have forgotten how to breathe.
When you watch a baby breathe, it naturally breathes from the tummy area, in a smooth, effortless, gentle rhythm. That’s the way our body is designed to breathe: the diaphragm moves down, causing the rib cage to expand, opening up the lungs, filling them with oxygen-rich air. Then as you breathe out the diaphragm moves up compressing everything, naturally expelling the air. It should be a pretty much effortless process.
But when we get stressed or stuck in our thoughts, the breathing tends to move up to the chest area. We end up using the intercostal chest muscles to breathe, instead of the diaphragm. And if we’re really stressed our breathing moves up to the shoulders and even the throat. This means that not only do we end up working too hard to breathe, but we’re not getting enough oxygen into the body, which causes physiological stress.
The mind and body are linked, so if the body is stressed, then the mind starts thinking stressful thoughts, stressful hormones go round, we feel stressed, we experience stressful emotions and the cycle continues.
You can put a “pause” in this by subtly shifting how you’re breathing – mindfully.
As usual do this within your comfortable limits. If you’ve got breathing issues or severe asthma you might want to talk to your medical professional first. If you can’t do this breathing exercise, visualise it, imagine it. It will have a similar effect.
Here’s an audio to talk you through this technique:
- Putting your hands on your abdomen, over your diaphragm, just above the belly button area, with your fingertips lightly touching.
- Allow your chest to expand as you breathe in. It’s not the time to be thinking about flat tummies here, it’s ok for your stomach to move and allow it to gently contract, to sink as you breathe out.
- As you breathe in from just above your belly button, you should notice your fingers slightly moving apart, as your chest expands.
- As you breathe out they return together, as your abdomen moves slightly towards your spine.
- Allow your breathing to continue, at a slightly slower pace than usual, for a minute or two, letting your awareness rest gently on the physical experience of breathing.
- Continue until you feel the ‘shift’ as your body relaxes and you return to the present moment.
When you have had a chance to experiment with this technique, how about sharing your experiences, over at the forum? Got any questions? We’ll get you the answers you’re looking for. 🙂
All I’m asking you to do this week is to practise mindful belly breathing for a minute or two, as often as you can remember to do them, and to notice the shifts this mindfulness technique creates.
Hope you have a great week!
P.S. Have you had a chance to go through the Kick-Start Guide yet? Want to share how you got on with your ‘snapshot’?
P.S. If you have any techy questions, you can get help from a member of my team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org