Have you ever been told to “take a deep breath” when something in your life has caused you to feel frustrated or overwhelmed? Chances are, you have. If you haven’t, you’ve definitely given this advice to someone else at some point or another. But why?
Stress in Life
With the ever-increasing demands and challenges in our daily lives, it’s easy to see why many of us suffer from high levels of stress. Stress activates your sympathetic nervous system, releasing hormones in the body that spark the “fight or flight” response. This response triggers the release of hormones that prepare your body to either stay and deal with a threat or flee to a safer place.
To deal with the stressors in our daily lives, many of us turn to things such as alcohol, food, exercise, or television shows to distract us. Why? Well, the answer is pretty simple–we don’t seem to have the proper tools or knowledge to be able to manage stress more effectively. And because breathing happens naturally, many of us don’t give the concept of breathing much attention.
However, breathing slowly and deeply can create a relaxation response within the body. Breathing exercises bring life back into your thirsty body, mind, and soul. It cleanses you, relaxes you, and it makes you whole.
What is F.O.R. Peace Breathing?
Pause F.O.R. Peace Breathing was introduced to me when I first started on my yoga journey. It wasn’t fancy, it wasn’t complicated, and it didn’t require any equipment. All it needed was you and your willingness to step back and breathe.
When you stop and take a breath in a stressful situation, you stop the hormones released by the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight response) and start to live again. It is a simple tool that you can use every single day to prevent and release stress when it starts to bubble up.
Steps of F.O.R. Peace Breathing
Pause F.O.R. Peace Breathing un-complicates what our minds often make complicated. It makes you STOP and use the tool you were born with to deal with stress in your life.
What Does “F.O.R.” in Peace Breathing Stand For?
Focus on one, long, deep breath. Inhale deeply, feeling your diaphragm and belly expand (not your chest). Exhale through your nose or mouth for the same count, or longer. Be fully conscious of this breath.
Observe your mind. Does it wander during this breath? Where does it go? Can you try again to be right here, right now?
Refocus if you need to. Bring your mind back to your breath. If your mind wanders, return to one deep breath.
The next time that you are feeling stressed, uncertain, foggy minded, and in desperate need of relaxation, Pause F.O.R. Peace Breathing and take a breath. You will be thankful you did!
Today, I will Pause F.O.R. Peace Breathing and enjoy the power of my breath. I encourage you to join me, friends. What can it hurt?
If you’re looking for more ways to enjoy the power of your breath, check out these resources:
Meditations for Stress Relief
5 Simple Solutions When Life Feels Like A Mess
Meditation is an approach to training the mind. It’s just like how an athlete trains their body for a game.
Even though the thoughts of meditation can seem challenging, it is actually pretty simple. First, you choose something to focus your attention on. Once you’ve decided on your focus, the goal of meditation is to keep your attention on it for as long as possible.
So, why should you meditate? Well, meditation has been proven to temporarily alleviate stress, strengthen the mind to cultivate inner peace and improve your overall mental well-being.
The Benefits of Meditation
The benefits of meditation are limitless. In my opinion, meditation is the most valuable activity you can engage in to improve your self-awareness. Self-awareness means recognizing what you are thinking, feeling, and doing when you are doing it. It is a practice of mindfulness, which is the idea of being 100% present and engaged in whatever you’re doing–free from distraction or judgment.
A recent article by Healthline identified the following 12 health benefits of meditation:
- It’s a good way to manage stress
- Minimizes anxiety
- Improves self-image and promotes a positive outlook on life
- Increases self-awareness
- It can be practiced anywhere
Just as there are many different reasons why people meditate, there are also many different types of meditation.
Types of Meditation
Just as there are many different reasons why people meditate, there are also different kinds of meditation. Breath awareness or mindful meditation, is by far my favorite. It helps to reduce stress, anxiety, and anger, and sharpen your concentration and attention skills. When you become more mindful, you are able to accept your thoughts and feelings without judgement. Overall, meditation is about finding awareness and achieving peace in whatever way works best for you.
Here are some great meditations to help focus your mind and relax your body:
1. Mindful Breathing Meditation
Mindful breathing meditation gives you an anchor—your breath—on which you can focus when you find yourself distraught by a stressful thought. Mindfulness distances you from your thoughts and feelings, which can help you work through unpleasant feelings rather than becoming overwhelmed by them. Clear your mental clutter, relax and renew with this 30-minute guided meditation audio.
2. Centered Breathing Meditation
A heart-centred breathing practice focusing on developing appreciation, love and connection all on the waves of your breath. Centered breathing guided meditation uses simple counting to help focus the mind and relax the body.
3. Body Scan Meditation
Body Scan Meditation is designed to help you develop a mindful awareness of your bodily sensations, and learn to release the stress in your body and mind. This mindfulness practice can help to reduce stress, improve your overall well-being and decrease aches and pains. This body scan meditation audio will guide you through gentle exercises to guide you to deeper body awareness.
If at first you don’t succeed, keep trying! Just like many of the other things you set out to do in life, the effort you put into meditation will be directly reflected in your success or lack thereof. When you learn to enjoy the process itself—and work to get better at it—then you are more likely to keep at it long-term and give yourself the best possible results.