And Breathe...

And Breathe...
Most meditation techniques are closely connected to the breath. Since the breath is the bridge between the mind and body, the conscious and unconscious, it follows that natural, slow rhythmic breathing is a key factor in achieving the meditative states that can take you beyond your normal daily experiences, and establish balance.

Usually meditation takes on a focus, something for your mind to do while you are sitting with your eyes closed. The importance of this will become apparent as you sit for the first time, and all the thoughts and distractions come in. Having a focus helps to sharpen the mind.

Mostly the focus chosen is the breath. The breath is always there, and can give you a clear idea of how you are feeling in your body at any time. Breathing can be laboured, shallow, deep or inhibited; when you notice it you bring awareness to it, which allows you to bring it back into harmony.

It is important that your awareness is on your natural breath; however it flows, without trying to control it. The goal is not to change your breathing, it is to observe it. Just notice your natural breath as it enters, and leaves the body. Having the awareness that you are breathing rather than trying to force your breath to be different is the key. Naturally, you may find it becomes more even and balanced the more you observe it, and the calmer your mind becomes.

The breath plays an important role in how we feel. Rapid breathing can cause us to feel anxious and dizzy, resulting in blurred vision, and loss of balance. In contrast, taking in deep sharp breaths can cause us to feel aggressive, and angry. Natural breath brings many health benefits, including clarity, balance, peace, and a sense of well-being.
Breathing properly can change our lives on so many levels. Meditation is an excellent way to balance the breath, and heighten the benefits received. Stop now and take a couple of deep conscious breaths – feel the difference? Did you notice how you instantly relaxed? Did your shoulders drop down?

Stopping what you are doing when you are feeling anxious, and taking a couple of deep breaths, really helps to relax the mind, slow you down, and it also acts to change the brain chemistry.

Next time you find yourself in a situation where you are reacting to pain or a strong sensation, try to maintain your natural breath, and observe the situation instead of reacting to it. Takes some deep conscious breathes and breathe into the pain or sensation, and feel yourself being released from it. This is meditation in action.

By doing this, your body relaxes, and the tension is reduced. Otherwise, what happens is that we try unconsciously to fight the pain, which puts tension on the body, and changes the physiology of the muscles.

Instead, drop your shoulders, unclench your muscles and allow the breath to assist you in letting go of the panic and fear that is created through holding on to the pain, and the breath.

Of course, something like this will probably not happen overnight, although an intention to practice this will free you from the usual effects of pain as they have always been experienced. This simple action helps to put you in control of how you respond.

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This content was written by Cat Hamilton. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Cat Hamilton for details.