As promised in an earlier post on mindfulness and the benefits of regular mindfulness practice, I want to share with you a mindfulness of breathing exercise. For years I have been guiding clients through this and similar exercises.
Practicing this guided meditation can be done in a few ways. You may choose to listen to it when you are feeling stressed or anxious to see if you can become more grounded and present. Or you may choose to listen to it on a routine basis to experience the maximum benefit to your well-being. I recommend practicing this 10 minute mindfulness exercise on a regular basis - either daily or several times a week when you are not particularly distressed. And also listen to it when you need a break or are feeling more anxious. By doing this, you can reprogram and integrate your body and mind to react less to stress and subsequently feel more at ease in your day-to-day life.
Also know that the purpose of this exercise is not for immediate stress relief. It's about being present to whatever is happening for you, moment to moment. And sometimes that may mean sitting with your anxiety and not doing anything to reduce it or make it go away. It's about practicing awareness and acceptance of all of the uncomfortable stuff (and pleasant stuff!), which in the short term can increase discomfort but in the long term builds our ability to be at peace.
Before beginning this exercise, make sure you are in a space that's comfortable and quiet. You won't want anyone to disrupt you for about 10 minutes, so do what you need to do to put those boundaries in place. Shut the door, turn off your cell phone, put your home or office phone on mute. Get in a comfortable upright position where you aren't prone to falling asleep. And press play.
When I lead clients through this exercise, either in individual or group therapy sessions, I process their experience with this exercise. I'd like you to think about what practicing mindfulness of breathing was like for you.
- What did you notice?
- Was it more difficult than you thought? Easier?
- How do you feel after engaging in the exercise? Remember that sometimes people feel more calm but sometimes they feel more anxious after slowing down and noticing their discomfort.
- Do you think practicing mindfulness of breathing on a regular basis could be beneficial for you?