In the article How You Breathe Matters, Maria Hill discussed the importance of breath and oxygen to the body, especially for highly sensitive people. She explains that when we are stressed, our body runs on emergency stores of oxygen as our breath becomes quick and shallow. In a stimulating and extraverted world, highly sensitive people need to begin the habit of stopping and tuning into the breath to make sure they are nourishing themselves with stress-relieving oxygen.
This exercise is great for meditators of every level and easy to do in any environment.
- Direct your attention to your breath. Listen to it. Feel it. Take note of the way it sounds and how it feels passing through your nostrils and down your throat.
- Don’t worry about changing your breath, but you might naturally breathe deeper just because you’re paying attention.
- Make room for your breath by adjusting your posture; try to sit up straight with shoulders back and hands in your lap or by your sides. Imagine the crown of your head floating toward the sky.
- Fix your eyes on one spot in front of you or on the floor. You can also close your eyes if you’d like.
- The most important part: smile. Just a small lift of the corners of your lips will do. (You can try doing this meditation without smiling. Note the difference.)
- Count through eight (8) cycles of breath. That means one inhale and one exhale equals one cycle.
- When you’re done, you can choose to keep going or go about your business.
- Redirects awareness away from external stimuli and stressful circumstances.
- Increases oxygen intake.
- Resets breathing pattern.
- Enhances mood, especially if you smile!
- Discrete and non-disruptive.
- Can be done anywhere at anytime.
- Cultivates mindfulness.
Building the Habit
Breathing meditation has no prerequisites. You can do it in the morning or before bed. You can do it on your commute or in the shower. You don’t need a meditation cushion or special posture. This exercise is meant to be a natural part of your everyday life. After a few sessions and experiencing the benefits, you might find yourself weaving it into your daily regimen. Just keep it in your self-care toolbox and use it whenever you need to refocus.