By Pandit Dasa
Close your eyes and then take a slow, deep breath, filling your lungs completely, visualizing their expansion and feeling the chest broaden. Once the lungs are filled, slowly exhale, completely emptying out the lungs. Take another five to10 breaths in the same way and try your best to stay focused on the breath going in and out of your lungs. This is not only helping us stay in the present moment, but it’s allowing the lungs to take in slightly more breath each time. Moreover, the mind has something specific to focus on and some place to come to when it gets distracted.
Breathing Through the Nose
Next, try and breathe just through the nasal passages, keeping the mouth closed. If this is too challenging, feel free to use the mouth. If you’re able to only breathe through the nose, feel the cool breath going in and filling your lungs completely then breathe out the breath that has been warmed up by your body. Continue for another five to 10 breaths.
We want not only our lungs to get involved in the breathing process, but also our belly. During inhalation, we should feel the belly rising and relaxing during the exhalation. This is described by Harvard Health as “diaphragmatic” or “abdominal breathing”—it can “slow the heartbeat and can lower or stabilize blood pressure.”
Holding the Breath
Now we’re going to practice holding our breath for very short periods of time. When we hold our breath, the body will start to tense up a little bit. One of our goals is to take notice as we tense up and then relax while we are holding our breath. This is a great exercise that trains our minds to stay relaxed during times of conflict and disagreement.
Let’s begin by taking a deep breath in, filling the lungs completely, and holding our breath for three seconds. While in the process of holding the breath, try and relax your face, neck, back and the rest of your body and then exhale. Once you’ve exhaled completely, hold your breath again. You want to hold your breath while your lungs are empty, which may seem a little more difficult. Hold it for three seconds and then take another deep breath and hold your breath for four seconds. Try your best to not tense up and then exhale. Hold your breath for four seconds once you’ve completely exhaled and then take another breath and hold for five seconds and do the same after exhaling. If for any reason it’s too difficult to hold your breath for more than one or two seconds, that’s completely fine. The idea is to relax yourself and not do the opposite.
Pandit Dasa is a keynote speaker, workplace culture expert, author and former monk who provides practical tools and takeaways for leaders and organizations. To learn more about mindfulness, visit panditdasa.com and check out Pandit Dasa’s upcoming book: Mindfulness for the Wandering Mind (available on Amazon).