Breathing Exercises/ Meditation (Taken from My Guided Meditation by Darcy Patrick)
This breathing exercise is a very calming and a fun thing to practice. It is actually the first meditation we are going to do together in this book. You may have to practice it a lot before you even bring in an image or any senses, so don’t get discouraged. Breathing is the building block to guided meditation and must be practiced over and over again. The good news is that it’s good for you and you can do it anywhere you’d like, because breathing is what we do to live and just paying attention to it is natural and healthy. Learning to let go of your thoughts is no easy task but learning to bring your mind back from these thoughts is essential. I will practice breathing throughout my day, while I am sitting enjoying my morning coffee, playing with my son, watching a tv show – you name it – breathing deep and paying attention to your breathing is never a bad thing.
Breathing Exercise 1
When I am relaxing I like to do this simple exercise: I will breath deeply, paying attention to my long inhale and exhale, and then I will then let my mind wander off to a particular subject or a thought. I will only allow this one thing in my mind and I will then bring my attention back to my breathing. I will count in my head as I breath in for the whole inhale, counting up from one to five. On the exhale, I will only pay attention to the breath being pushed out. I will repeat 4 or 5 times, then I will relax and let my mind wander again. I will bring myself back from where my mind wandered to by counting to five again on my inhale, and again only concentrating on pushing the air out on the exhale. I will practice this exercise throughout the day, while having a coffee, on lunch break, while on a walk or
just sitting by my pond. I will take time out of the day to treat myself to this exercise.
When a stressful situation arises at work I will close my office door and I will practice this exercise, letting the stress and the situation disappear by distracting my mind, focusing on just my breathing. If you are feeling anxious and your body is reacting and showing signs of being overwhelmed, (such as hands shaking, short breaths, heart pounding in your chest) do the breathing exercise. Concentrate on the long inhale. Count to five, then exhale, concentrating on your breath leaving your body, letting your mind go. Learn to control your breathing and your mind at the same time. Once you can do this then using you mind power for a guided meditation is just a step away.
Do this exercise now before reading on and take your time with it. Do not feel rushed, as there is no urgency, no time line for you to follow. Just take your time and learn to bring your mind back to focusing on your inhales and exhales. Breathe and repeat. Allow yourself to reach a calm state. Practice and practice; this is an enjoyable and natural thing to do.
Breathing Exercise 2
Another breathing exercise I love to do and is also the start to using guided meditation is an exercise I like to call “playing with dandelions”. This exercise is very simple as it is much like the first exercise we learned to do. You first find a nice comfortable place you feel calm and safe. You then start by taking in that first deep breath and counting to five as you breathe, making sure your breath is deep, paying attention to the full exhale as you breathe out.
Do this over and over again. Then I want you to stop counting to 5, but keep the inhale time the same length - do not change it. Now picture yourself just sitting in a green field... the sky is blue and the sun is shining on you, it’s a warm day but not hot, it’s just right. You look to your right side, then to your left and there are thousands of dead dandelions all around you. You reach out with your right hand and pull one out of the ground. You pay attention to the air filling your lungs as you inhale. Now on the exhale you make an “O” with your lips and you gently blow, sending the seeds flying from the top of the dandelion.
You drop the dandelion stem, you breath in deep once again, and as you do you watch the seeds float away out of sight. On your exhale you continue to watch those seeds float and dance until you can no longer see them. Now with your left hand pick up another dandelion and repeat the process. Pick as many dandelions as you’d like, stay in this moment for as long as you wish. Picture the green field, the sun, the clouds, see everything as it is, as if you are actually there. Believe it or not, but you are now practicing your first guided meditation.
Just focusing that overactive mind and slowly learning to put it to good use is what this exercise is all about! The more you practice the easier it gets. Do these breathing exercises everyday and take the time out of your day to treat yourself with love and kindness, learn to focus that highly functioning brain and wonderful imagination. Use it for yourself because you are the most important person in your life.
Learning to relax and practicing your breathing is such a wonderful thing to do, learning to treat yourself to the experience of being alive is a gift unto itself. Learning to control your overactive mind goes hand in hand with this and being able to bring both experiences together is such an important thing. Think of these two breathing exercises as pleasurable experiences, grow accustomed to doing them each day and eventually you will start looking forward to practicing them. The peace you will find by doing so will leave you feeling strong and happy! And it leads us to our next step in meditating, which is mindfulness.