Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Tiny Change #2: BREATHE
I know what you're thinking.
Breathing is not a "tiny change," it's a regular occurrence.
You may think that. But do you actually take a little time, every day, to think about nothing but your breathing?
Try this: as you inhale, think, "I am breathing in." As you exhale, think, "I am breathing out." If that's too complicated, you can simply think "inhale" and "exhale." Using those words as an anchor allows us to focus our attention on one thing--the breath--rather than the myriad of thoughts that buzz through our minds at any given moment. If and when you become aware of thoughts rather than your focus on the breath, gently (this is important! Gently) bring your awareness back to the breath. No need to berate yourself for thinking: it's what our brains do. Be nice to yourself.
It's not easy. You'll find your mind wandering, probably almost immediately. Some days are harder than others. But with practice, especially daily practice, it gets easier. Think of your brain as a puppy: we are simply training it, not spanking it.
And the best part is all of the health benefits: lower blood pressure, reduced risk of heart disease, stronger immune system, lower anxiety levels, better short-term memory. Anyone think that might be helpful while you're in college?
Here's a suggestion: try it for ten minutes a day. If that's too much, try five minutes. You can try it first thing in the morning to start your day off in a calm manner, or at the end of the day to wind down, or halfway through your practice session when your mind feels overwhelmed. If you like, listen to an app that has repetitive sounds that are relaxing like ocean waves, rain, etc. I like the Insight Timer app because I can set the timer and use an ambient sound. Try to avoid music, as we tend to listen to it and get involved in it rather than focus on the breath.
Many people feel afterward as if they've taken a refreshing nap.
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