Sometimes, life can feel like a long marathon. We’re constantly on the run at work, running to take our kids to their after school activities, and running home to make a quick and healthy dinner. Some days it feels like we’re running a never ending race of catch up. On other days, fatigue sets in, and the simplest of tasks are insurmountable. With so many demanding responsibilities competing for our attention daily, it can be difficult to justify the time to stop and
take a breath.
Most times, it’s what we need most.
There is a quiet power to mindful breathing. Mindful breathing builds resilience to stress, anxiety and anger. It also improves our mood and ability to focus. Mindful breathing is a dependable and steadfast act of self-care that encourages us to be present and attentive to our own needs. We can’t expect ourselves to be productivity machines unless we take care of our inner selves first.
Give Yourself Permission
The most difficult step to begin mindful breathing is letting ourselves breathe. To take a pause, a moment to ourselves, can feel indulgent, a distraction even, but it is far from it. The moment you give yourself permission is the moment you stop running your marathon and take a breath. You are always worth the time. Whether it’s one moment or twenty, it’s time well spent.
Find a Comfortable Position
Practising mindful breathing can start small. You can first start taking deep breaths at your desk. If that position isn’t comfortable, there are many alternatives. Finding the most comfortable position helps increase relaxation. Perhaps you find more comfort sitting tall cross-legged on the floor. Or you can spread out on the floor on a breathable woven towel. Choose whatever position is most comfortable for you and begin your focus on the breath.
Focus on the Breath
It’s natural that our minds tend to wander while we’re breathing mindfully. It can be difficult to remain focused with our lingering to-do lists, responsibilities, and external noises leading our attention away from the moment. When this happens, notice that your mind is wandering, and gently redirect your thoughts to the natural flow of your breath. You can even place your hands on your belly to feel the natural tempo of every inhale and exhale.
Be Aware of Your Body
Another way to keep focus is becoming aware of your body’s movement. As your body relaxes, notice the shape of your body. Notice its weight during a moment of stillness. Be curious about the sensations your body experiences; the touch of your body on your chair or floor. Notice any areas of tightness, perhaps around the neck, shoulders, or jaw. Let them slacken as you continue breathing. Mindful breathing encourages movement that’s free from judgement, so welcome any feeling or non-feeling your body feels. There is a grounding connection between your body and gravity, and tuning in to your body creates a greater union between your physical and mental self.
Be Kind to Yourself
Some days will be more difficult to find your breath than others. Some days will feel more difficult to find the focus to even take one big cleansing breath. Be kind to yourself and don’t feel guilt or disappointment for not being able to find your breath. Mindful breathing is like exercising a mental muscle. Some days you’ll feel ready to work it out. Other days will feel more lethargic. That’s okay. Be kind to yourself and know that you can always try again tomorrow.
It’s important to remember that mindful breathing isn’t a skill we perfect. It’s a practice. It’s a practice that develops an awareness, a quiet power of being conscious of your mind and body, that will help make running your marathon less strenuous.
The key to running an effective marathon is pacing. It’s knowing when you need to stop let yourself breathe. Each day we benefit from taking the time to stop and breathe. The practice of mindful breathing is not about how many breaths you take. It’s about how you take them. Each mindful breath makes a difference.
About the Author
Eleni Zaptses is a writer and marketer who helps small businesses find their audience online.
When not writing, Eleni enjoys a great book and a cup of hot chocolate. You can find Eleni on
LinkedIn or check out her work on her website.
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