“Breathing in, I calm my body. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment, I know this is a wonderful moment.” –Thich Nhat Hahn
The wonderful thing about mindfulness meditation, and what draws so many people to the practice, is that all we need to meditate is our breath. We can practice discreetly in public places such as offices or shopping malls, and without anyone knowing that we are centering ourselves and finding balance in a stressful moment. Whether we suffer regularly from anxiety or go through infrequent periods of high work-related stress, we all have moments when we look for something to take the edge off. Some of us may react to stress with angry outbursts or maybe we become extremely overwhelmed and distract ourselves with the television or food.
Coming back to the breath during times of stress, anger, or anxiety is an incredibly practical and effective way to remain calm during the highs and lows of everyday life.
Mindfulness gives us the opportunity to pause in the midst of difficult situations and thus give us a chance to respond as opposed to react. With mindfulness we begin to have a choice with how we respond instead of being controlled by our emotions. A regular mindfulness meditation practice trains us to notice our habitual reactions so that we may pause, step back, and choose a different way forward. Initially, we may only become aware of how we are reacting without making any changes. This is actually a turning point. Once we are aware of how we are reacting, we begin to see our behavioral patterns more clearly. Over time, we strengthen our ability to pause before we react and in this moment, in this space we’ve created, we can choose to respond differently.
Once we realize that we have the power to pause and choose a response to our life experiences instead of being highjacked by them, we begin to make better choices and our sense of well-being is enhanced.
Maybe we begin by taking a single deep breath before reacting habitually. In this moment, we become aware of what is happening and we are empowered to respond in a way that is in line with our values. As we continue to train in mindfulness meditation, we increase our overall awareness and find ourselves responding consciously more often than reacting habitually.
Meditation instructor Alice Lash offers mindfulness meditation in Miami. To learn more about how to use your breath to feel calmer, contact Mindfultime today.