Mindful breathing, or mindfulness of breathing, means using the breath as an object of concentration. One needs to focus solely on breathing to become aware of the mind’s tendency to bounce from one thought to another. Breathing and mindfulness go hand in hand, and when you practice mindfulness along with the breath, a dull, boring day can become an exciting day. Practicing this is like filling your gas tank.
By being mindful (i.e. concentrating on one thing) brings us to the present moment and helps people experience the richness of moment and being content with it. It makes people more aware of their surroundings and also more alert towards sensitivity. It can put you in touch with joy, peace, strength, and wisdom.
Once you get the hang of mindful breathing, you can do it anytime and anywhere. It’s like switching on the inner peace button. You can use this to help you through tough times. It helps you accept the feelings without denying or changing them. It helps you practice dhyana. Mindfulness of breathing is an excellent antidote to anxiety and restlessness. It gives you a calming and positive effect on both mental as well as physical state.
So what’s exactly a mindful breathing and how to do it?
Mindful breathing is nothing but being mindful of your breath. It means observing and being aware of your breath i.e., breathing in and breathing out, without any judgment or control. It’s that easy!
Once you know how to breathe mindfully, it will come naturally to you and will be available all the time. You can combine your breathing with the things you are doing and transit into the mindful state of being.
How to do it?
The primary way to practice mindfulness is to simply focus on your breath, i.e., inhaling and exhaling. This can be done in any position, but it is advisable to do it while you are sitting or lying in a comfortable position.
You can keep your eyes open or closed; however, you are comfortable, so closing your eyes will help you concentrate better.
You can practice it every day for a particular time frame or whenever you are feeling anxious or stressed. According to experts, regular mindful breathing can make you less stressed and anxious in difficult situations.
When a person is anxious, it gets difficult to calm him, but just by taking in an exaggerated breath through the nostrils and holding it for 3 to 4 seconds and releasing or exhaling the breath through mouth for 3 to 4 seconds helps to calm the person.
This forces the person to notice his breath and helps in distracting the thoughts of the mind and bodily sensations.
Here is a detailed guide on how to practice mindful breathing
1. Get comfortable
Find yourself a comfortable and relaxed position. It can be your favorite cozy corner, cushion, or even floor. Keep your back straight and upright and rest your hands wherever you find them comfortable. You can also hear a guided meditation.
Pro tip – Keep your tongue on the roof of your mouth.
2. Become aware of your body
After you are comfortable, notice your body. Notice the weight of your body and its shape. Keep getting curious about your body. Become aware of your sensations, experiences, touch, the connection with the cushion or floor, etc. Relax all the areas of your body that are tight or in tension.
3. Start noticing your breaths
Just breathe. Observe your natural flow of breath. Tune into your breath, in and out. Just breathe naturally; no need to breathe in too long or too short.
Notice the feeling of your breath. You might feel it in your abdomen, nostrils, throat, or chest. Become aware of breathing and continue to do it for a few minutes.
4. Reserve judgment
Concentrating on breathing might be difficult, and you might notice that your thoughts are wandering, and you are thinking about various other things. It is totally normal and natural. It just has to become aware of your thoughts and bring your attention back to the breathing.
Do this for 3 to 5 minutes. Notice the pattern of your breath in silence and in your comfort zone; your mind might wander and get lost from time to time, but return your concentration to your breath.
6. Relax and practice gratitude
After a while, notice your whole body. Relax and appreciate yourself for practicing mindful breathing today.
If you find being focused and stay present while you are practicing mindfulness difficult, then don’t worry; you are not alone. Everyone struggles for a bit and takes years to master and get comfortable with mindful breathing.
Staying curious and aware of your breathing rhythm instead of perfecting your breathing might help you focus. There is no wrong way of breathing. Don’t stress and worry about doing it if you are doing it right or wrong.
Benefits of mindful breathing
Provides you emotional stability
Managing and concentrating your breath can alter the way you feel. Based on the journal – cognition and emotion, it makes as much as 40 percent of the difference in feelings like fear, anger, sadness, and joy.
By practicing mindful breathing, you can relax and calm yourself down. Just by breathing in and out slowly and deeply can give you better emotional stability.
According to studies conducted by Patanjali Research Foundation, Yogic breathing practices or mindful breathing helps in increasing the leptin levels. It is a hormone produced by fat tissue and signals the brain to inhibit hunger.
Better stamina to exercise
By practising mindful breathing, our body gets the right amount of oxygen needed for function.
A study was conducted between the groups of mountaineers who practiced slow breathing before attempting to climb Mount Everest vs. a group who did not practice slow breathing.
The group that practiced mindful breathing reached the summit without an oxygen supplement. Their exhalation and blood samples reports showed that they used 70% of their lung surface area, i.e., the maximum amount of o2 taken in.
Having control over our breathing can alter our mental state and help to balance our emotions and also decrease the hyperactivity in our brain and calming and relaxing it down. If you feel stressful and anxious, just breathe deeply for a few minutes and you will be relaxed.
Makes you more alert
Mindful breathing practise helps you in focusing deepl and centering the attention on one thing. It allows you to fixate and concentrate on tasks better.
Practicing mindfulness trains your body and mind to relax and it no longer requires constant stimulation. Taking a few minutes out in a day just to relax and concentrate on your breathing makes you a very patient person.
Calms you down
Just by concentrating on our breathing, you can reduce the bunch of constant information that you put in our mind daily. With mindful breathing, your thought settles and it helps calming you down.
Makes you creative
When your mind is at peace, it allows you to distract yourself from millions of thoughts and helps bring in the creative ideas. You can finally think about the amazing ideas when you are relaxed.
Makes you aware of your own body
Mindful breathing helps in connecting the body with mind. It helps one in becoming fully aware of the breath and also the feelings, thoughts and physical sensations.
Makes you present in the moment
Just by staying with yourself and isolating yourself for a few minutes in a day can make you aware of our body, mind, surroundings, etc. It makes you more grounded and completely connects your mind and body in amazing ways, which ultimately makes you more present in the moment.
According to Harvard study, just one session of practising mindful breathing influences the expression of genes. It improves the metabolism and also suppresses the genetic pathway that causes inflammation.
Chronic inflammation is also linked to diseases like Alzheimer’s, depression and various heart diseases, so practising mindful breathing can change our life and give you a better lifestyle.
Provides Pain relief
Mindful breathing can be effective in reducing the pain intensity and is alternative to opioids in humans with lower back pain, fibromyalgia or migraines.
Few other benefits of mindful breathing are helps in improving digestion, lowering blood pressure, detoxifying the body, improving immunity, increasing energy and much more.
You can do this mindful breathing by yourself and if you need some extra help, you can also listen to the guided meditation and various mindful breathing exercises that are available online.
You can find plenty of videos and audios on youtube and various apps.
Mindful breathing has been practised for centuries across the world to train and calm the human mind.
It is a powerful way to meditate and it allows you to control your breathing and balance our thoughts. It helps with anxiety and fear.
What are you waiting for? Breathe in.. Breath out..
Vishal Khot is the writer of this article. He is a freelance blogger and has written multiple articles for websites including reviews.in. He also likes to write product reviews about home, sports, and fitness. On weekends you will find him playing football or riding bike. He likes to travel to various places.