Deep Belly BreathingSeptember's meditation is especially useful for helping us to deal with stress. Deep belly breathing is the practice of helping our breath to become deeper, slower, more rhythmic, and more natural. As the breath is linked to our thoughts and emotions, deep belly breathing helps us stay calm and relaxed and better able to cope with life's demands.
Find a time and a quiet place where you can sit alone for fifteen minutes. Sit in a comfortable, upright, relaxed position, close your eyes and bring your attention inside.
For a few moments, notice your breathing pattern as it is, and let your attention rest on your breathing without trying to change it. You might notice gradually that your breathing starts to slow down by itself. You might also notice where your body rises and falls with your breath – is it your belly or your chest that rises most? If your chest is rising most then this tells you that right now, your breathing is quite shallow. There is nothing harmful about shallow breathing, but if this is a pattern in our lives, we are more prone to feeling uptight, anxious or stressed. If your breathing is mainly from your belly, then you are probably already fairly relaxed – great! This exercise will help you to deepen this relaxation.
Now gently rest your right hand on your chest, and your left hand on your belly. Bring you attention to your chest and keep your right hand as still as possible. Particularly if you are already chest breathing this will help to slow down your breath, and bring it deeper into your diaphragm, causing your belly to rise. Don’t worry if this seems difficult – just the intention to still your chest helps this to happen – and with regular practise it will become second nature.
Keep on practising for a few minutes, and then bring your attention down to your belly and the hand resting there. For a few minutes just keep your attention on your belly without trying to do anything. Your chest should have become a little stiller, and you should notice your belly rising and falling. Gradually, while keeping some of your attention on your belly, also become aware of the flow of your breathing in and out. Feel the air as it passes through your nostrils, and imagine it flowing down like a ribbon all the way to your belly. Then as you breathe out feel the air pass through your nose, and imagine your whole body letting go and relaxing.
Allow yourself to continue feeling your belly rise and fall, and your breath coming in and out, until the end of your fifteen minutes. You should become aware of a growing inner relaxation and centering as you continue doing the practice. Thoughts, feelings and different sensations will arise as you practise. This is perfectly normal, and you do not need to do anything to ‘get rid’ of these thoughts or feelings. Just allow yourself to notice them and then bring your awareness back to your breath.
After fifteen minutes have finished, gently open your eyes and take some moments to sit quietly, take in your surroundings, and come back to the room. Notice how you are in your body, mind and emotions.
If you enjoyed this meditation you might enjoy our day Coping Effectively with Stress, using mindfulness meditation.