Meditation is not a way of making your mind quiet.
It is a way of entering into the quiet that is already there.
– Deepak Chopra, author, speaker, & physician
The idea of taking up a meditation practice can be daunting if you’ve never tried it or are just getting started.
Maybe you’ve tried it and felt uncomfortable or couldn’t sit still through the entire meditation session.
It’s rare to find a person who doesn’t have a busy mind these days, so it’s completely normal to experience mental chatter while meditating.
The mind wanders when the body slows down and the senses are turned inwardly.
We start thinking of our to-do list, or that email we need to respond to, or what we should have said to this person or that person…
It’s all normal.
Meditation isn’t about emptying the mind of thoughts so much as it is about learning to ride the waves of those thoughts…
Why can’t I meditate?
One conscious breath in and out is meditation.
– Eckhart Tolle, author of Be Here Now
When you hear the word ‘meditation’ what comes to mind?
You may perceive that you “can’t meditate” because the idea you have in your mind about what meditating should look like differs from your experience.
The more we think we “can’t” do something the more we’re reinforcing the belief that it’s true.
Here’s the thing:
There are multiple styles, modalities, and forms of meditation…
Mindfulness meditation, mantra meditation, breathing meditation, walking meditation just to name a few.
And even when you do find the type of meditation that’s right for you – it will be awkward in the beginning because this is a new skill you’re learning after all.
We’re more used to running around immersed in our busy-ness and most likely on autopilot mode most of the time.
Pausing this ‘go-go-go mode’ to tap into the present moment is a foreign experience for most of us.
It’ll take some time, persistence, and consistency to cultivate effective meditation skills and fully drop into the present moment experience.
And that’s totally ok…
The mental/emotional and physical health benefits of meditation far outweigh the short-term discomfort.
Breathing: Meditation for people who can’t meditate
Breathing meditation can quiet the mind, open the body, and develop a great power of concentration.
– Jack Kornfield, meditation teacher & author
The daily practice of breathing meditation (done correctly) offers many of the same benefits as more “traditional” forms of meditation:
- increased sense of well-being and inner peace
- a quiet mind & the reduction of the ‘monkey mind’
- reduce stress levels
- improved digestion
- enhanced sleep
- more mental focus
- better memory
- more energy levels
- improved quality of relationships
- boosted immune function
Meditation via the breath can help activate the restorative, soothing, and healing part of our nervous system by sending it messages of safety.
As a result, our minds become stronger, calmer, and more resilient to the demands and challenges of life.#Breathingmeditation calms the body and strengthens the mind. Click To Tweet
A study by Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience found that breath-focused meditation can literally strengthen your brain’s structure. (1)
Researchers found an actual physical link between breathing patterns and a part of the brain directly related to focus/ attention levels.
According to the study, the way we breathe directly impacts our brain’s chemistry, making it possible to cultivate a healthier and stronger brain as well as increased mental focus.
Our breathing rate directly affects levels of a brain chemical known as noradrenaline.
The brain releases this chemical when we’re focused, and at optimal levels, it helps the brain grow new connections acting like much like brain fertilizer. (2)
“Practitioners of yoga have claimed for some 2,500 years, that respiration influences the mind…
This study has shown that… our attention is influenced by our breath and that it rises and falls with the cycle of respiration.
It is possible that by focusing on and regulating your breathing you can optimize your attention level and likewise, by focusing on your attention level, your breathing becomes more synchronized,” says Michael Melnychuk, Ph.D. candidate and the study’s lead author.
What this study shows us is that:Conscious breathing activates the brain so that we perform better. Click To Tweet
What you should know before adopting a breathing meditation practice:
There are some dangers to deep breathing if done incorrectly, so let’s go over some best practices tips…
1- Sit comfortably and upright, with your mouth, face, neck, jaw, and shoulders relaxed.
2- Breathe through your nose only, not through your mouth.
3- Expand your lower belly outwardly with each inhale. (This engages your diaphragm, the muscle under your lungs and over your internal organs. This will activate those regenerating and soothing systems in your body.)
4- Contract your lower belly inwardly with each exhale.
5- Keep your shoulders, neck, chest, or upper body as still as you can.
Get started with this 5-minute breathing meditation:
You say that you are too busy to meditate.
Do you have time to breathe?
Meditation is your breath.
– Ajahn Chah, Buddhist monk & author
Let’s put all of this knowledge to good use now…
Time to practice meditation!
Follow along with me with this guided meditation:
How do you feel after?
What do you think could happen if you were to dedicate just 5 minutes every single day to keep this meditation practice going?
Considering there are 1,440 total minutes each day, it’s safe to say that dedicating 5 to your meditation practice is doable and realistic right? 😉
Chances are if you committed to doing this for just 5 minutes every day for 40 days you’d develop the mindset and conditioning necessary to deepen your meditative practice… all just by cultivating breath awareness.