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Breathing Awareness Awareness of...

Posted Oct 22 2008 4:23pm
Breathing Awareness

Awareness of breath is essential for developing control of the mind and body. When the mind has feelings of anxiety, negativity, loneliness, and unworthiness breathing is shallow and fast, and the body responds with an increase in heart rate, blood pressure and fear hormones. But when the breath is deep and slow, the body relaxes and the mind quiets the noisy churning and comes to rest.

Become aware of your mind’s thoughts and emotions. Are you feeling anxious, angry, dwelling on self-critical thoughts? Or are you feeling calm and peaceful? Focus on your breathing now. Is it shallow and fast? Or deep and slow? Take a deep breath in and let it go slowly, like a big sigh of relief. Let the next breath come in slowly and deeply and feel how your belly expands. Notice how it relaxes when you exhale. Continue breathing diaphragmatically from your belly and notice how both the mind and body comes to rest.


Counting The Breaths

Take a big sigh of relief, a letting go breath. Then go to belly breathing, or breathing with your diaphragm. Count to 5 as your belly expands and you take a deep, full inhalation. Hold your breath for 5 counts, then exhale for 5 counts, completely emptying your lungs. At the end of the exhalation, hold your breath for 5 counts. Repeat this exercise for 5 minutes.


Basic Concentration Meditation

Meditation is a form of mental martial arts. When we resist thoughts they overpower us. But when we step out of the way and let them come and go like leaves on the wind, we can use the energy to focus our minds and maintain balance.

Take a big letting go breath and shift to belly breathing. As you exhale, concentrate on the number 4. On the next exhalation, concentrate on the number 3, then 2 and 1 on the succeeding exhalations. Start over counting down from 4 to 1 with every exhalation and continue this process for 5 minutes.

Whenever thoughts come to mind, notice them and let them go by returning your attention to breathing and counting.

Repeat this exercise 2 or 3 times a day.


Stretching

The mind and body are so intimately connected that they function as a single interdependent entity. You can change your state of mind by directing your body to move in a positive way. This is why dance, exercise and posture can be deeply healing when performed with this understanding. When the body is relaxed, the mind slows down. When the mind slows down, the body relaxes. Stretching before meditation, throughout the day, and whenever you feel stressed or fatigued helps the mind to be spacious and creative.
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