Mindful Mondays – Breathing

** I am not a medical professional. All exercises listed are ones I find useful for me and based on my own experiences. If you have any questions about Mindfulness or any mental health issues, please speak to your doctor or other medical practitioner ** 

Mindful

A fidget by nature, relaxation is not something that comes easy to me. It doesn’t help that I suffer from RLS so, whenever I am relaxing, my legs are twitching all over the place.

As part of my move towards living a more mindful life, relaxing was something that I really wanted to focus on. I’ve learnt that it’s something that can be done at any time in any place. Whether it’s spending hours indulging in your favourite hobby or simply trying to squeeze a 5 minute oasis of calm in to your working day, there’s something for everyone. They might seem ridiculously obvious but if you’re anything like me, sometimes it can feel like you’re so busy you forget to breathe.

Today I want to look at some of the smaller exercises you can do to bring your attention back to the present moment.

We’ll start with a peek in to my daily work life..

It’s *insert any day* morning, I was late for work (again) because of having to clean up cat sick (double again) and now only have 15 minutes to prepare for that important meeting I’m meant to be leading, although I’m not entirely sure what it’s about. My brain is working a mile a minute trying to keep up and it’s safe to say I’m more than a little frazzled.

Before, I would have gone straight in to melt down.

Now, as soon as I start to feel that tingle in my hands that warns me the anxiety attack squad are on their way, I stop. Even if just for a minute, I stop and complete one of the below.

Exercise 1

~ Take a few seconds and just concentrate on slowly breathing in and out.
~ Make sure to pay close attention to the feeling of the air coming in through your nose and then out through your mouth.
~ Close your eyes if you feel comfortable doing so or focus on a point in front of you while you breathe.
~ As you breathe in, feel your diaphragm raise and your chest expand.
~ As you breathe out, feel your shoulders drop.
~ Repeat this for 5 breaths.

Time Taken: Less than a minute
Benefits: Can help you to ground yourself in the present moment regain your focus on the matter at hand.

Exercise 2

This is an expanded version of the above for when you have a little more time to spare.

~ Sit comfortable in a chair, with your back straight and your eyes closed.
~ Begin to slow your breathing, breathing in for the count of 3 and out for the count of 3.
~ Feel the air coming in through your nose and out through your mouth.
~ Pay attention to the sensation of your chest expanding and deflating as you breathe in and out.
~ Concentrate on this.
~ If your mind begins to drift, that’s okay. Simply notice the thoughts as they pass, making sure to bring your attention back to your breathing.
~ Try not to follow the thoughts or analyse them, just let them flow through your mind.
~ You may find that you become more attuned to noises around you. Again, this is ok. Notice them briefly and then bring your focus back to your breathing.
~ Whenever you feel your attention waver from your breathing, just bring the focus back. Don’t judge yourself harshly, this is just how the mind works.
~When you feel ready, slowly open your eyes. Take the time to notice the room around of you, the feel of the chair against your back and legs, any sounds.

Time Taken: 10-15 minutes or however long you feel comfortable with.
Benefits: A brilliant exercise for calming your mind and bringing you in to the present moment.

Thich Naht Hanh

The first time you do this, you may feel a little disorientated or your mind may feel “crowded” once you’ve completed the exercise. This is completely normal. We’re so used to processing a thousand thoughts a minute that it can feel strange emptying your mind. The more you practice it, the more you’ll find you relish the quiet moments.

Breathing exercises are something that are so, so simple and easy to fit in to your daily routine. The second one could also be completed at bedtime, to help calm you before sleep. If you do try them out, let me know how you get on or if you can think of any ways to improve them in the comments.

See you next week xx

All images used are taken by and are the property of Astarfellonher, unless otherwise credited. The use of any image from this blog without express permission is strictly prohibited.

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4 thoughts on “Mindful Mondays – Breathing

  1. Kerri says:

    I can usually be found hiding out in the ladies loo doing a little exercise number 1 🙂 Or huffing and puffing… either or, I just need 5 minutes peace and quiet and the somewhat secret toilet in the building next door isn’t a bad place for that!

  2. Tiny Grey Cat (@TinyGreyCat) says:

    I do a lot of mindfulness as part of my recovery. As well as these, another good one is to breathe out for longer than you breathe in, especially if you’re starting to panic. It helps redress the Co2/oxygen balance, or something! Anyway, to try it, breathe in for 5 and out for 7 (or whatever numbers feel comfortable). I find this usually helps get my racing heart to slow down! Great series, my dear, which I’m sure will be helpful to so many people! xx
    http://tinygreycat.blogspot.com

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