Smile, breathe and go slowly ~ Thich Nhat Hanh
Wellness is all about living a lifestyle that supports physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. With the persistent overwhelm and stress that comes out of the many roles you play in life, wellness can be elusive even though you long for its presence to bring balance, peace and calm into each day.
- How do we best navigate the challenges of daily life as free as possible from anxiety, stress and overwhelm?
- What can we do to invite a completely natural and lasting relationship to stability, awareness and calm in our lives?
The simple answer is: practice meditation and mindfulness breathing.
You have at some point likely encountered both concepts and might have even tried meditation or experimented with exercises of mindfulness breathing. You may have heard how focusing on the breath bridges the divide between your inner chaotic thoughts and your inner stillness. You may even have noticed a momentary shift into stillness if you’ve tried meditation. But how can it make a transformative difference in the real, crazy and chaotic world of your real, crazy and chaotic life?
Meditation and breath awareness are powerful tools that gradually shift your perspective and behaviour. You become more conscious, awake and observant of what is going on within you and around you. That awareness is the key that generates transformation.
” As you quiet your mind, you begin to see the nature of your own resistance more clearly, struggles, inner dialogues, the way in which you procrastinate and develop passive resistance against life. As you cultivate the witness, things change. You don’t have to change them. Things just change.” ~ Ram Dass
Numerous studies and research have produced empirical evidence that meditation, which includes focus on the breath, can make a difference in well-being. It can:
- train the body to slow the stress (sympathetic nervous system-fight or flight) response
- Lower blood pressure and change the acidity in the blood thus promoting better health
- activate the relaxation response (vagus nerve system) using slow, intentional breathing techniques
- help preserve aging in the brain (see study )
- promote more focused attention and mental clarity
- reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety and pain (see study)
- decrease cell size in the brain’s amygdala (fear, anxiety and stress response) while it increases growth in the hippocampus (learning emotional control and memory) creating potential for more positivity and balanced emotional states and can assist with recovery from addictions (see studies)
- develop the ability to be more outwardly present every day and inwardly self-aware.
- promote more peace, compassion, understanding and recognition of grace in life
- reduce stress and trauma in school children
Daily Meditation and Breathing Exercises for Wellness
- Walking mindfulness Simply walk naturally with your hands anchored either in front or behind your back remaining aware of the breath with each step as you stay centered within.
- Prayer Set the intention for your day with a brief prayer of gratitude, blessing or focus.
- Breathing Awareness Process
Sit comfortably upright, close your eyes gazing slightly downward as you do.
Inhale and exhale slowly and deeply through the nose noticing the breath as it enters your nostrils.
Now breathe naturally keeping your awareness on the sensations and movement of the breath at tip of your nose only.
Breathe in and out rhythmically for 3 minutes as your awareness rides softly on the breath entering the nose. Feel the temperature and sensations of each breath.
Let the breath follow its own rhythm (long, short, uneven, rapid) and just observe its flow. Notice any shifts or changes that occur in the breath with time. Does it get lighter? Slower? More rhythmic?
Take the experience of the meditation with you as you go about your daily activities by focusing on the breath throughout the day.
Breath and Meditation can be a catalyst for well-being in daily life because it cultivates the skill of objective observation. Also, the unrestricted coming and going of the breath mirrors the freedom in life to allow that all experience (pain, joy, challenge) simply comes and goes. When you let go of control, wellness can be restored.