Befriend your Breath
Motherhood is far from being stress free. There’s always things to do and kids can be unpredictable. When you are patient, relaxed and zen, your children tend to mirror and be the same.
The breath is one of mindfulness’s best friends for two big reasons: it’s always in the here and now. And you can’t leave it at home.
Why Does Mindful Breathing Work?
Observing the breath, without trying to change it, is an effective, natural relaxation technique. It reduces the heart rate and calms the mind. Often quite quickly.
Breathing has tremendous power to change your emotional state fast—to energise, focus, and relax you. In fact, learning to work with your breath is one of the most powerful tools for increasing your health and wellbeing. And best of all slow, deep diaphragmatic breathing up regulates the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS).
“Mindful deep breathing is one of the fastest ways that you can regain control over stress.”
Practicing mindful breathing is like strengthening your muscle of living in the present; as you practice more, you’ll find it easier to remain in the here and now, rather than being caught up in the past or in some fantasy about the future.
Mindful Mum 5 Minute Breathing Exercise
- Start by sitting down in a place that’s free from distraction. Sit comfortably, with your back as straight as you can, and rest your hands in your lap.
- Pay attention to how this position feels and let your mind and body just “be” for a few moments.
- Close your eyes and notice the pattern of your breath as you inhale and exhale. It may be soft or loud, slow or quick, shallow or deep.
- Bring your attention to the present moment by noticing how you’re feeling physically. Scan your body from head to toe and consciously try to let any tension slip away.
- Breathe naturally for a few moments, in through your nose and then breathing out through your mouth. Follow the breath for its full duration, from the start to finish.
- Now, hold your breath for 5 seconds after you inhale, and for another 4 seconds after you exhale. Continue breathing in this rhythm for a few moments.
- Now, place both of your hands on top of your stomach and try to notice how your belly rises with each inhale and falls with each exhale.
- Notice your breath moving in and out again from your belly, to your chest, and gently out through your mouth.
- This time say, “Relax” silently or aloud after each time you exhale.
Your mind may wander hundreds of times during these 5 minutes – that’s okay and quite natural. Your “job” is to catch yourself when you’ve wandered and to gently bring your focus back to the breath every time, without judging yourself.
Repeat this exercise for up to 5 minutes.