Has anyone ever told you to take a deep breath when you're feeling stressed or upset? Focusing on deep breaths is a great way to relax the body and mind. Meditations mainly focus on the breath because you can take it anywhere you go. When you need it, you have it.
Has anyone ever taught you how to breathe though? Of course not! We're born with this skill, and throughout our childhood, we are experts at breathing for calm and presence. That's because we do it correctly: with the belly. Unfortunately, as we get older, both boys and girls are taught that extending your belly out and in isn't physically attractive, nor is the belly where the lungs are located, so why would we breathe through it? We're instructed instead to breathe through our chests, which actually does not as effectively calm the mind or body.
When you breathe with your belly, you are connecting the breath with the mind. Mentally, this calms you down peg by peg. And so on, this type of breathing grounds you, connecting your mind to your physical body. Belly breathing can be focused upon during meditation, and practiced all day as your normal breathing! I learned about belly breathing from the Panic Attacks Workbook by David Carbonell, PhD. Follow the guide below to learn how to belly breathe, and see the right side of this page for the instructional video link!
1. Sit in a posture that allows air to flow easily through your system.
2. Let out a big sigh, as if someone just told you something that's a huge relief.
3. With your mouth closed, gently and slowly push your belly outward until it reaches a comfortable stopping point. This will initiate an inhale through your nose.
4. With your mouth open now, gently and slowly pull your belly inward, initiating an exhale out of your mouth.
5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 for the duration of your meditation, and/or as practice throughout the day.
Click below to see belly breathing in action, and follow along while you practice!