Mindfulness can be developed by paying attention in a certain way, that is, in the present moment and with an open heart as non-reactively and non-judgementally as possible. It is a way of developing an awareness of ongoing life experience and accepting the world as it is right now. Adopting mindfulness into your daily routine can bring about so many benefits to yourself and others such as relaxation, better mental health, better emotional health, an improved relationship with yourself and others and a discovery of your observer self which will provide you with more meaning and purpose.
Alternate nostril breathing
This is a great exercise to do and something you can turn to throughout the day when you are feeling stressed. When you are anxious your lungs fill with carbon dioxide and it is difficult to introduce oxygen, this happens with panic attacks. Alternate nostril breathing helps exhale the carbon dioxide from the body and make room for oxygen which allows you to relax.
Alternate nostril breathing brings about balance, settling your mind, body and emotions. It is a great technique to use before meditation or if you are experiencing anxiety or stress or having difficulty sleeping.
- Take a comfortable seated posture making sure your spine is straight and your heart is open.
- Relax your hands in your lap.
- Close down your eyes to full or half closed and take a few big breaths in and out of your nostrils noticing the way the breath fills up your lungs and then releases on the exhale.
- Using you right thumb and your ring finger bring your right hand up to your face and use your right thumb to close your right nostril. Inhaling through the left nostril slowly and steadily.
- Close your left nostril with your ring finger and pause with both nostrils closed.
- Open your right nostril releasing the breath slowly through the right side, pausing briefly at the end of the exhale.
- Inhale through the right side slowly.
- Hold both nostrils closed with your thumb and ring finger and pause briefly.
- Open your left nostril and release your breath slowly through the left side. Pause briefly at the bottom.
- Repeat these cycles 8-12 times following your inhaling and your exhaling.
- Each cycle is represented in steps 4-9
- Try to notice the length of your breaths, the key is to be slow and steady. It may help you to count your breaths in cycles. For example, inhale for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, exhale for 4 seconds and see if you can increase this count over time.
- If you are not in a meditation setting you can do alternate nostril breathing when you are on the go, for example if you have a spare few minutes before leaving the house or before entering a busy setting such as the supermarket or shopping centre. Repeat steps 4 – 9 if you can’t do the earlier steps and draw on this tool when you are trying to gain control of your mind and body as well as increasing mental alertness.
Sophie Benbow is a meditation and mindfulness teacher based in Sydney. Her passion for health and wellness is showcased on her blog sophiebenbow.com and Instagram @sophiebenbow where she shares her meditation and mindfulness techniques, healthy recipes and fitness motivation.