Following along with our structure of spiraling inward on the path of mindful self-exploration...
We wrapped up our first week of Mindfulness and the Body by practicing our spinal flow (cow-cat, twist, and side bend, linked fluidly with breath) one last time. One participants shared that this week was their first successful commitment to daily practice! Having "homework" is a powerful motivator for a group of teachers I suppose :) One thing that I was grateful for this past week was the general sense of re-connection to my body that this relatively tiny movement gave to me. I can't imagine another such small movement that would have a whole body benefit. I felt more aware of my posture for hours after doing this each day!
This week we will explore Mindfulness and the Breath. We opened today's session with a Breath Awareness practice. Then we took a break for some questionnaires (sorry, program evaluation calls!) Then we compared the effects of a different breath practice, 2-to-1 breath, introduced in the article you read last week.
2-to-1 Breath is your 5-minute daily practice this week so I'll share reminders about how to do it...
It should be done as a "belly breath". One easy way to activate diaphragmatic breathing is to lie down and put a hand on your belly. Seated is also fine. The important thing is to allow your belly to move freely and get out of the shallow chest breathing we fall into during times of stress.
Start by noticing your breath flowing in and out through your nose (not mouth), and allowing the natural rhythm to happen for a few rounds. Typically, you'll find you're breathing in approximately a 1-to-1 ratio with equal inhales and exhales.
Begin lengthening your exhale. If you're counting to 3 on your inhale, slowly build up to counting to 6 on your exhale. If you don't get quite there, don't worry!
If you need a way to slow the breath down, you can engage the abdominal muscles. As we yoga teachers like to say, "squeeze every last drop of breath out".
If your inhale feels jerky or gasping, you may be exhaling for too long. Try a different count!
If your inhale feels forced or begins to make you lightheaded, try taking the passenger's seat instead of the driver's seat, so to speak. Wait for your natural need to breath instead of directing your body to inhale. It's counter-intuitive to me, but works!
Next in our session I shared highlights from a few very current research articles about the breath. It's fascinating to me that something so foundational to being human has so much potential for improving our wellness, and that that potential is still so undiscovered! One of the studies I talked about today may eventually lead to a pharmacological way to modify breath via neuronal activation. All of these tidbits were shared to inspire you (pun intended!) to commit to this "easy" or "boring" practice fully and see where it takes you!
Formal Practice: 5 minutes daily doing 2-to-1 breath (long exhales)
Informal Practice: Find a time during your normal day to incorporate a few of these long exhales and report back to us about how it affected your perspective.
Read: https://thoughtcatalog.com/ryan-holiday/2014/05/this-moment-is-not-your-life/ to prepare for our topic next week, Mindfulness and the Mind.
Thanks for a great start to B-COME! See you next Tuesday!