We all know that deep breathing is great for Anxiety, and at the same time, deep breathing is also one of the foundations of meditation - which is also incredible for Stress and Anxiety.
However, for people who are new to meditation and/or deep breathing often struggle with it, and for various reasons: Either because they are focusing on the fact that they can't rid their minds of intrusive thoughts, and get aggravated by it, or they're not sure what they should be doing, and as a result, simply become bored with just sitting and breathing.
Some people are not sure what to expect, and get a little anxious, and some people expect too much too fast.
I am no meditation expert, but as someone who does practice meditation, for both stress relief and to experience the spiritual aspects of the practice, there are a few things I've learned along the way:
1) Firstly, don't focus on trying to copy what the media tries to portray meditation as. You don't have to sit in a pretzel like position, you don't have to hold your fingers in a specific way, and most importantly, there is no one way to meditate - again, it's about personal preference.
2) Secondly, don't believe that in order to meditate, you have to completely clear your mind and keep it clear throughout your practice. Intrusive thoughts are perfectly normal. Rather focus on acknowledging these thoughts without judgment, but, also gently letting them go.
3) Thirdly, you don't have to have a spiritual experience to feel the effects of meditation. There are many benefits to meditation, and to have a spiritual connection or experience is a common ambition that many people do have for meditation, but it's not the only benefit and goal that you should have. I always advise people who are new to meditation to first and foremost, focus on how it makes you feel from a stress point of view. Use it to slow down your heart rate, and to focus on you!
Don't expect too much of yourself too soon.
To aid in helping those of you who do struggle with meditation and/or deep breathing, there is a really fun way to do it that will not only aid in relaxing you, but will make the breathing much more interesting, instead of just merely inhaling and exhaling.
The key with this technique is it forces you to focus, and to use imagery by means of your five senses. By fully engaging the five senses, we become much more aware of our inner selves, and it is easier to focus on the present moment - mindfulness.
I call it 'The Five Senses Breath' and it can take as little as three minutes out of your day!
So, find some place where you will be comfortable. You can sit or lie down, but make sure you won't be disturbed. I also recommend putting on some relaxing background music, and close your eyes.
What you're going to do is inhale and exhale, but with each breath you take, you're going to envision the breath using a different sense each time.
So to start, breathe in and feel what your breath feels like. Does it feel cool against your nostrils? Does it tickle? When you breathe out, feel the warmth of your breath coming out your mouth.
Next, inhale and see what the air looks like. For this step, I usually envision white light going into my nose. When you breathe out, imagine smoke coming out your mouth.
Next, breathe in again and hear your breath. Concentrate on what it sounds like. Is it shallow? Is it long and deep? Then hear your breath as you exhale out your mouth.
Breathe in again, and smell the air going into your nose. Perhaps you want to imagine it smelling of something you like the smell of - envision that smell, else, just simply smell the air. Smell the freshness of it. Smell it going out your nose or mouth when you exhale.
Breathe in once more and taste the air. This is the hardest one to do, so I always recommend either envisioning your favourite food, or else, inhale through your mouth, to taste the air you're breathing in. Exhale again.
If doing this for the first time, do it once, and then resume normal breathing.
If you're used to deep breathing, feel free to try this cycle again.
This technique can be done at the start of a meditation to simply relax the mind and body, and get the breathing cycle going, or else just use it as a deep breathing technique.
I use this breathing technique at the start of my meditations, and it's really great for helping me to focus my mind, and to get me super relaxed.
I really hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
Check out the accompanying video below: