Being mindful of our breathing through meditation is another way achieving calm and peace of mind. Many of us develop bad breathing habits which result in an overall reduction in health. Learning to slow your breathing down and to let go of thoughts that no longer work for you puts you in charge of yourself.
Incidentally, while you can very quickly change your state using breathing methods you also need to change you’re thinking patterns to ensure that the change of state continues. If you only alter your breathing but continue with the same old thoughts, the unwelcome moods will quickly return. Meditation helps you to widen the gaps between your thoughts which help you to feel calmer and more relaxed.
Try meditating earlier in the evening to empty your mind of that inner chatter. Learn how to enjoy the gap between your thoughts. Watch your incoming and outgoing breath get deeper the more you relax.
Relaxing Breath Exercise
If you want to get a feel for this serious challenge, try your hand at breath counting, a deceptively simple technique much used in Zen practice.
Sit in a comfortable position with the spine straight and head inclined slightly forward. Gently close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Then let the breath come naturally without trying to influence it. Ideally it will be quiet and slow, but depth and rhythm may vary.
- To begin the exercise, count “one” to yourself as you exhale.
- The next time you exhale, count “two,” and so on up to “five.”
- Then begin a new cycle, counting “one” on the next exhalation.
Never count higher than “five,” and count only when you exhale. You will know your attention has wandered when you find yourself up to eight and more.
Try to do 10 minutes of this form of meditation.
Yesterday, I lay still on a bench overlooking my favourite coastline bathing in the warm sunshine feeling at peace. I meditated and found to my surprise how much easier it was to relax in between thoughts. My relaxed feelings were helped by the quiet location, overlooking the tide and by the warmth of the sun.
For the best night’s sleep, wind down with a bubble bath, candlelight and music, yoga, or a good book. Learn to slow your breathing down and with each exhalation, practice letting go of anything that no longer works for you. You’ll be surprised how quickly you drift off and sleep.