Meditation starts with the breath. The purpose of this breathing exercise is to help you calm the mind by bringing awareness to the breath. Prior to starting, let’s briefly describe the regions of the lungs that we will be referring throughout this breathing exercise for meditation:
- Abdominal region – your belly will inflate like a balloon on inhalation and deflate on exhalation.
- Ribs and middle chest region – your ribs will expand and contract like an accordion.
- Upper or clavicle/collar bone region – place your thumbs under the collar bone to feel the movement of this area during breathing.
Breathing exercise begins:
- In a comfortable position on your back, with your body relaxed, place your right hand at the top of your chest with your thumb at the collar bone and the left hand on the middle of your abdomen.
- Inhale and exhale through the nose.
- First focus on bringing breath into the lower part of the lungs by inflating the belly like a balloon. Next allow the air to expand to the middle chest region, then expanding further to fill the upper/collar bone region.
- On the inhale feel each region of the lungs expanding, imagining the inhalation filling up a glass of water from the bottom up.
- On the exhale, empty your lungs, allow the abdominal region to fully deflate.
- Continue long, deep, slow breaths while keeping the body relaxed until the breaths become smooth, even and uninterrupted (approximately 15 – 20 breaths).
The breathing exercise can also be done in a chair with your back straight but in the beginning you may find it easier to practice in the lying down position.
You can practice this breathing exercise any time you feel anxiety is getting in your way or you feel the need to bring yourself to the state of relax or calm. If you find meditation to be challenging to practice on your own, search out a Chicago Yoga Studio that teaches meditation.