I don’t know about you, but I’m a big ball of anxiety which makes my breath come out very short. This has always made meditation very hard for me because I have always felt like my breathing was forced and laboured.
I learnt something very interesting today. Tamara Leavitt’s daily meditation on the calm app was all about Natural Breath. I really appreciated this and I learnt two things:
1. We do not have to take long, deep breaths. If we are only able to do short breaths then stick with that and try to focus on relaxing our bodies.
Example: put a light smile on your face to relax your face muscles!
2. If you are focusing on your stomach rising and falling and it is not working for you then try focusing on a different part of your breathing like the cold air going into your nostrils when you breathe and the warm air coming out as you exhale. This little trick has really helped me and I have found that my breathing is less laboured and I am actually able to relax!
I also have something else that is really interesting that I shared with a couple of my classmates the other day:
A few months ago I would never have been able to look to my breathing to help me to ground myself and feel better!
My entire life growing up I had always pushed away my feelings and emotions and nothing was ever dealt with. I was always told “you are okay” and then that’s what I ended up telling myself. This led me to constantly push my body feelings and emotions down and to not deal with them and “just smile”.
I was seeing a psychologist and while I was working with her she would constantly try and get me to use my body to try and ground myself while having an anxiety attack. This did not work for me AT ALL and it would send me in the opposite direction and I would become more uncomfortable. What I came to realize was that I never related to my body, not at any point during the day!
A tip that she gave me which REALLY helped was to wear a ring that had a pattern on it. When i was feeling any sort of emotion that made me uncomfortable that would lead to panic I would rub my fingers along the ring and focus only on the grooves, the bumps, the temperature of the ring, etc. You can do this with any object really but the ring worked really well for me because I would make sure that I had it on before walking out the door!
I realized that I needed to change my relationship with my body and I was led to meditation (this is extremely hard!), yoga and individual exercises (beachbody workouts, bike rides, kayaking). The whole reason why I am sharing this with you is because my body has now become one of my biggest resources to help me to calm down. I have taught myself (when I wasn’t angry, having a panic attack, etc.) what my body feels like. What breathing feels like, what my arms feel like, what my legs feel like, etc. It sounds ridiculous but I honestly never knew! Then when I was having an anxiety attack and I was told to focus on my body it was even more overwhelming for me because I was like wtf is this?!
The most important part for me about this entire thing is that I start my day with exercise and meditation. This REALLY helps me with grounding myself and starting myself on the right foot to tackle whatever is thrown at me (emotionally) during the day.
Are you able to use your natural breathing to ground yourself and get you back on track when you are set off course?