MindBody Blog

Being With the Breath

Being in the present moment is as simple as noticing your breath. Much of the time, the mind is wandering, worrying or mulling over past or future experiences. Or chasing after feeling good or powerful, rather than vulnerable or helpless. When we are constantly in this thought pattern we miss out on the one-of-a-kind moment right in front of us that we can't ever get back. Not only does this rob the positive moments in front of you, it can also worsens feelings of worry and anxiety. Essentially, if we don't practice being still, we are more likely to feel blown about by every wind of life. When we are aware of our breathing, we can help calm the body and the mind even in our most stressful moments. 

Shallow breathing - which is common for most of us - doesn't oxygenate the blood circulating in your arteries and veins very efficiently. Before you know it, you feel mentally sluggish and emotionally run down. But just with a couple of rounds of deep breathing, you can feel the opposite effect. Deep breathing nourishes your nervous system and puts you in a better mood. It relaxes the muscles, lowers blood pressure and reduces the workload on the heart and strengthens the lungs. With this increase of oxygen, your brain automatically produces neuro-chemicals that calm anxiety and worry.

Beyond the science of our breath, there is also reason to come out of our heads for a moment and into our bodies. The more we practice awareness of the breath, the more we are connected to what causes negative feelings, as well as the positive ones. 

Here's a Simple Way to Start:

  1. Sit comfortably in a chair or on the floor
  2. Focus on the sensations where your body contacts the floor or chair. Simple “feel” into your body and let it breath itself 
  3. Bring your attention to your chest and belly, feeling them rise gently on the in-breath and fall on the out-breath
  4. Be with each breath for its full duration. You may even notice a short pause after each breath, and also that each seems to have a life of its own
  5. Afterwards, take a few moments to sit with your eyes closed and notice the difference in how you feel overall