Mindful breathing can serve as a bridge, one that connects body and mind. When your psyche and your physical body are alienated from each other, you are not at your best. Perhaps your body is in the room with someone you love, but your mind is somewhere in the past or future. In that state, you can’t be truly present for that person. If you aren’t really there, how can you bring that person happiness?
The great thing about this problem is that it’s such an easy fix. Just two or three deep, mindful breaths can re-center you quickly. It works best if you practice mindfulness meditation on a daily basis. The profound calm and lucidity that flow from that practice will return to you in the middle of a stressful event if you go back to your breathing and mentally repeat your mantra or practice poem. Here’s one that might work well for you. (Silently “say” the first line as you breathe in, the second as you exhale, and so on. The lines in parentheses are diminutions of the lines that preceded them; I find it helpful to include those shortened versions.)
I am breathing in.
I am breathing out.
My breath is deep;
My breath is calm.
My mind is lucid;
My body is relaxed.
Focus your attention on your inhalation and exhalation, allowing yourself to relinquish toxic thought patterns and self-defeating habits. You might want to accustom yourself to noting the rise and fall of your abdomen as you breathe. Place your hand on your navel: feel it expand as your lungs fill with air and contract as you exhale.
If you don’t have a lot of time and want to get grounded quickly,
simply running through this short practice poem once can relieve a great deal of anxiety. Again, the importance of daily practice cannot be stressed enough. Like any skill, mindfulness can be expected to improve with repetition.
Image from visionshare