One of the easiest ways to achieve relaxation is to engage in deep, mindful breathing exercises. This can help trigger the relaxation response. This type of exercise is easy to learn, quick to perform, and requires no equipment. It is also a good introduction to learning how to meditate. As you continue to explore other methods of relaxation, use the following breathing exercise to ease tensions and restore your sense of balance and calm. It will do the health of your body, mind, and spirit a world of good. As you emerge from your restorative relaxation time, remind yourself that you have the power to create your own health and to enjoy all that life has to offer to you.
A Simple Breathing Exercise
This exercise is an excellent introduction to relaxation and to meditation techniques. It increases self and body awareness. A two- to three-minute “breathing break” during the day is very restorative. To perform this simple exercise, sit or lie comfortably with your hands resting in your lap. Relax your muscles and close your eyes.
Make no effort to control your breath. Simply breathe naturally. As you breathe in and out, focus your attention on the breath and how the body moves with each inhalation and exhalation.
Take a few moments to focus inward. Notice the movement of your body as you breathe. Observe your inhalation and exhalation. Pay particular attention to how the breath moves your body. Observe your chest, shoulders, rib cage, and stomach. Notice subtleties such as whether your chest or stomach rises with inhalation and how your body responds to exhalation. Don't try to control your breath, simply focus your attention on it. This singular focus brings you into the present moment and into the immediate experience of your body. It often results in slower, deeper breaths that further relax your body.
If thoughts come into your mind, simply let them come and go. Allow the thoughts to drift by like clouds floating in the sky. Any time your mind begins to wander, return your attention to your breathing. Continue for two to three minutes and then gently open your eyes. Over time, you can lengthen the period of relaxation, if you prefer.