Fact: Breathing is one of the most natural, subconscious things our bodies do. But when it comes to meditation, focusing on every inhale and exhale can be a powerful technique – one that keeps you from getting distracted by nagging thoughts and the stress, anxiety, and frustration that accompany them.

Mindful Breathing

To find out just how mindful breathing works, we asked the wellness experts at Canyon Ranch® to give us a few tips.

Find a Comfortable Spot
“It doesn’t matter if you are in a chair, on the couch, or on the floor. Sit wherever you feel the most comfortable. Aim to keep your back as straight as possible; it’s not necessary to sit frozen like a statue, but try not to slouch either. Keep your shoulders relaxed and your neck long and straight.”

Narrow Your Focus
“Mindful breathing is less about altering breath pattern and more about tuning into each inhalation and exhalation as it happens naturally. Once you’re in a comfortable position, close your eyes and inhale. Notice how the oxygen flows into your nose, down your windpipe, and into your lungs, expanding your belly. Observe the slight pause your body takes when you’ve breathed in as much air as you can. Next, focus on your exhale. Notice the warm air as it slowly leaves your lungs through your mouth, and feel your body relax and your abdomen deflate.”

Allow Your Thoughts to Drift Past You
“One of the most difficult parts of meditation is sitting still – both in the body and mind. Distractions are a normal part of the process. When you feel your mind start to wander, refocus attention on breathing. Acknowledge the distraction and then make a conscious effort to let the thought drift away. Visualize stray thoughts as clouds in the sky – you can watch them slowly float by, but don’t reach out and grab them. They are simply there for you to observe.”

Stick with It
“When you first begin a mindfulness meditation practice, try it for short periods of time – between three to five minutes a few times a day. Once you begin to feel more comfortable with the practice, you can adjust the time and frequency to whatever feels right to you.”

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By Keriann Coffey, Associate Blog Editor

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March 6, 2013