“The purpose of life is to be happy.” — the Dalai Lama

The Breath Meditation
Focus on your breath as it goes in and out of your lungs. This simple exercise is one used by many people as a meditation technique and it is very useful for people who experience stress as panic attacks. Breathe out first, concentrate on emptying your lungs fully, visualize it like a balloon that has been emptied of all the air.

When fully deflated, your lungs create a vacuum that will fill with air naturally when you allow yourself to inhale. The intake of air that follows should feel very good; make both the inhalation and exhalation very full and slow.

Now focus on your abdomen: it should grow in size when you inhale because as you do so your diaphragm is filling this cavity in your body. When you exhale, the diaphragm moves up:  imagine it compressing the lungs to help you exhale. A baby is a good model for the right way to breathe: when she inhales her belly enlarges as her diaphragm lowers, it flattens as she exhales; her diaphragm pushing up into the chest cavity to empty the lungs of air.

Don’t do too many deep breaths, no more than ten at first. As you feel the air enter your lungs you can practice any kind of visualization you want; my favorite is to think that all of nature is nourishing me through my breath, and I, in turn, provide carbon dioxide for the plants around me when I exhale.

This makes a good exercise to do upon awakening before you even get out of bed. It sets a good tone for the day. You can then graduate to trying your breath meditation at intervals during the day. If you are feeling ungrounded or nervous, trying this little exercise can help you regain your composure. Eventually, simply remembering to do it becomes a mindfulness exercise in itself.

Copyright 2009 Aliyah Marr

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