We’ve reached Day 4 of my week-long challenge to discover more about mindfulness and introduce some mindful practices into my life.
If you’re just catching up, this week is all about Onken’s Embrace Spoonfulness initiative, and you can catch up by reading the first steps I took on Day 1, how I started to tackle bringing mindfulness into my work on Day 2, and how I worked on mindful eating in Day 3.
Today, I’m looking at mindful breathing.
What is mindful breathing?
To recap, mindfulness is all about achieving a mental state of calmness and happiness, slowing down and focusing on one, simple thing at a time, becoming aware yourself and your surroundings, living in the moment with intention and attention, and appreciating a moment for what it is.
Mindful breathing is a way to actively put that approach into practice by choosing a quiet and comfortable position – either laying or sitting down – and becoming aware of your breathing. Through this simple, meditative activity, it’s possible to achieve a calm and mindful state and the more often you do it, the more familiar you become with that feeling and the easier it is to revisit it in your daily life.
My experience with mindful breathing
While most mindful practices are quite new to me, I first became aware of mindful breathing as a technique when attending a yoga session. I’ve only ever been to this particular class, so if you’re a yoga aficionado, this will probably all sound very familiar.
Our instructor began the class with us all laying on our matts, facing upwards, heads towards the centre where she sat. She asked us to become aware of our breathing and helped us practice breathing slowly and evenly. She encouraged us to become aware of our bodies, and we worked from head to toe, soften each part of ourselves, letting go of tension, and focussing on the moment. All other thoughts left my head and I found myself completely in the moment. I felt complete patience, almost hypnotized into a state of complete calm. I loved it.
Applications for mindful breathing
Coincidentally not more than a few days after my first session, my son, JD, found a page in one of his favourite books, Unbored, that was all about relaxation. Having struggled for years to quieten his busy mind enough to settle in to sleep, he was keen to have this page read to him.
As I read it aloud that evening, I realised how familiar the words were – it was in essence the same technique I’d practiced with my yoga instructor. We started with calm breathing, and then with 5 second pauses, worked through each part of the body, softening it in our minds as we exhaled.
JD whispered, “Thank you” that night, and fell quickly to sleep. He’s found it so helpful, I have recorded the script and he listens to it every night, falling asleep almost immediately afterwards.
Both JD and myself now also use mindful breathing techniques if we feel at all stressed or frustrated and we both agree it beings us back to a state of calm reason very quickly.
A mindful breathing exercise
I really wanted to demonstrate mindful breathing and how it can work for you, so I’ve recorded this video today as part of my #EmbraceSpoonfulness challenge.
When you watch the video, you’ll see that I haven’t left a long gap for you to become aware of your breathing, and I haven’t talked through each body part in turn, as the video would have been much, much longer.
I recommend you watch it once straight through, and then on the second viewing, you can pause when it gets to the part about relaxing your head, and work through your body parts yourself, form head, down to shoulders, chest, arms, fingers are so on. After a while, you may well know the process well enough to be able to do it without listening to a guide, but if you prefer to have audio instructions, there are lots of similar ones to be found on YouTube. Just find the one that’s right for you.
Come back tomorrow for the final day of my challenge, when I’ll be looking at self-judgment and using mindfulness to let go of intrusive thoughts.
This post is sponsored by Onken. For more tips on how to live a more Spoonful life, tasty recipes and to view the full range visit www.onken.co.uk