Want the simplest way to begin a mindfulness practice or to work your way into mindful movement? Start by focusing on the breath.
Our breath acts as a metronome. You could say it’s the drummer in the band for every song that takes place. In essence, your breath is the driver of how high your spirit soars, for when you’re focused on your breath, that’s the chance for your heart to expand, for your ideas to come forward, and over time, for you to connect with your higher self.
But you needn’t worry about that for now, just beginning with a five minute mindful breath exercise can help start to put you in the zone, help quiet the mind, and help you rewire your mind to give you greater peace, relaxation, and better performance, no matter where you are. More than that rewiring the mind helps you plug into greater energy, clearer thought, and greater focus and endurance than you ever thought possible.
The Goal of Mindful Breathing
The goal here is to begin to get in sync with your breath, to slow down the mind-chatter that’s always going on, and to start to strengthen your mental muscles to let go of its thoughts. This takes time and practice, but focusing on the breath is the easiest way to begin.
While you can do this meditation seated or laying down, it’s preferred to do it seated at first so you don’t drift off.
Allow yourself 5 minutes of undisturbed time. Try doing this in a quiet room or a place you have all to yourself. If that’s not available, turn your chair so you’re facing away from whatever actions are taking place.
- Sitting upright in a chair, or cross-legged on a mat, focus on a nice, slow, deep inhale through the nose.
- Then hold for a second or two, and then release slowly through the nose as well.
The goal here is not to see how powerfully you can breath, nor how deeply you can breath (though that’s good), nor how slowly you can breath (also a good thing, but not necessary for now). Instead, your goal is to put all of your attention on your breath. Now try this…
- Breathe in deep, and feel the air tickling the tip of your nose.
- Hold, then exhale.
- Now breathe in deep, and feel the breath going in through the nose, almost to the back of your throat.
- Hold, then release.
- Then breath in deep, and feel the air spiraling downward toward your belly.
- Then again hold, and release.
As you’re doing this, bring all of your attention to your breath. If a thought comes up, notice it, then bring your attention right back to your breath. For instance, you may breathe deep and go…oh, I have an appointment later today. That’s alright. You don’t need to take action on it for five minutes.
Let Go of Your Thoughts
Notice your thoughts. Even notice how it makes your body feel, then immediately let it go, going right back into your breath. Don’t worry, if the thought’s important enough, it’ll come back after you’re done.
In the beginning thoughts will come up, LOTS of them. That’s okay. It doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong, nor that you’re unable to meditate. It simply means you get to work on strengthening your mental muscles in a new way.
Even the best meditators in the world have thoughts come up, it’s just they come up with less frequency and less strength, and can be brushed away more easily. But it’s part of the experience for thoughts to come up, the secret is how we learn to work with those thoughts so we drive the ship of our existence, rather than our wayward minds.
You’ve probably heard we have up to 60,000 thoughts a day (who knows how they got this number) and that at least half of them are the same thoughts over and over again. If you learn to control your thoughts and shut off this repetitive worrisome chatter, just think how much more relaxed, energized, and clearer of mind you’ll be!
So take just five minutes a day, focus on your breath, and let go of your thoughts. This simple, yet powerful tool will help free your mind, relax your body, and help put you in a more focused, peaceful state, in all that you do. You may even discover a sense of inner bliss and greater inner peace as you do this. And you’ll be building upon this for mindful movement and your greatest fitness ever, where it all starts with the breath!