Return to Your Breath ==> (N O W)

June 16, 2015

Because breathing is something we do all day.
Yet it happens below our awareness.

Our conscious brain is focused on the past and future.

Take a quick break from thinking, and realize it’s time to breathe.
Then take a deep breath, trying to feel the air going in, filling up your belly, and blow it out of your mouth (or nose). Repeat.

Something will happen.
A small shift in awareness.

Our mind is like a helium balloon.
It’s going to fly about here and there.
According to the whims of the winds.

Returning to the breath is like grabbing the string.
And bringing the balloon back to stable grounds.

People have told me about deep belly breaths for decades.
And it never stuck. I didn’t get why that should work.

During my research into anxiety relief, I once again ran into deep breathing exercises.

Why does this work?
When we do a deep belly breath (instead of a high chest breath), it calms the system. I think there are nerves down there in the belly.

It will calm the amygdala fight or flight system. Reduce the pumping of cortisol thru our veins. Cortisol = fight or flight = stress = heart racing = mind going crazy (anxiety) = more cortisol

How to remember to do this?
That’s the million dollar question.
During stress, anxiety & daily life, we forget about returning to the breath.

There are many ways.

Create mindfulness reminders.
Buddhists monks use gongs that sound at certain times during the day in their monastery. This will cause all of them to stop what they’re doing and return to the breath. Return to the present moment. Grab a hold of the balloon strings.

Some people get tattoos that say “JUST BREATHE.”

I have a silent alarm that goes off on my phone every day at 4pm, that says MINDFULNESS REMINDER.

I also leave reminders in the note app on my phone.
So that I’ll see it.

I leave reminders on my google calendar that repeat weekly or monthly with messages like “BE PRESENT” “REMEMBER TO BE MINDFUL” etc.

I also have an anxiety checklist.
Kinda like pilots with their liftoff checklist.
Do this, then this, then this. Remember about this. And that.

This is the daily practice of being mindful (& living).