How to Use Your Breath When Meditating

by Project Compound

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Do you know how to use your breath when meditating?

It definitely is simple but it’s not always easy.

It might sound a bit weird right?

You’re probably thinking … ‘of course, I know how to breathe you pelican!’

Well, you’d be surprised.

We think that as long as we’re not holding our breath it means that it’s working, right?

It means we’re breathing.

But it’s not all about just breathing to survive, but more about using your breathe as a tool to get you into the right state. 

I’m going to ask you to try this with me right now.

Start focusing on your breath for a few seconds.

Really focus on the air slowly going in and out.

As you start to pay attention to your breath and how your body feels…

You’ll notice yourself becoming a little calmer.

You’ll also notice your breath tends to be short, shallow and coming from your chest rather than your belly.

Being conscious of this is really important.

Stress and anxiety affect us more than we tend to notice.

It’s just in the recipe of our modern lives to always be on the go and stressed up to the eyeballs.

This way of living makes us unable to think right and react how we want in certain situations. 

 

 

How to Use Your Breath When Meditating Contents…

  • How Breath Affects the Mind and Body
  • How to Control Your Breath… and Your Emotions
  • How to Breathe While Meditating
  • Practicing Breathwork During The Day

 

How Breath Affects the Mind and Body

Breath is what sends the signal to our brains telling it to be ready for fight, flight or chill.

I won’t get into the science of it too much because I’m no expert, but I do recommend you listen to Dr. Alan Watkins’ TEDx Part 1 and Part 2.

He is an Honorary Senior Lecturer in Neuroscience and Psychological Medicine at Imperial College, London.

Dr. Watkins describes the science behind how anxiety affects our mental capacity and performance.

What he explains is that our performance is affected by our behavior…

And our behavior is affected by our thinking and our feelings.

These are, in turn, are affected by our raw emotions, which are in fact dictated by our physiology.

And that’s where it gets interesting…

He goes on to describe our emotions as just streams of data going through our bodies which cause certain reactions.

Reactions like when you’re anxious and your heart starts racing, your palms get sweaty, your mouth dries up, your stomach cramps up, and so on.

Your heart sends signals to the brain about what’s going on around you and what it should be prepared for.

If you want the right signals going to the brain, you need regular heartbeats.

And the way to regulate your heartbeats and avoid it telling your brain it’s time to panic is… you guessed it: the breath.

His practical demonstration shows that it doesn’t take master yogi skills to control breathing and to control your emotions.

Just a simple technique of paying attention to your breath and regulating its rhythm and flow.

This is why you’ll also hear most meditation experts recommending that you allow your body to just breathe.

It will naturally settle into a calm flow.

Allowing your breath to flow naturally has a calming effect that you can then learn to use in your daily life and uncomfortable life situations, too.

 

How to Control Your Breath… and Your Emotions

Breath is one of the few essential functions of the body we can regulate ourselves.

It also impacts almost every other function of the body.

Not to mention the mind.

To check how much your mind and body may be affected by how you breathe, you can try this simple exercise.

Take a few long breaths while holding your palms on your belly.

If they move up and down as you breathe, congratulations your breathing right.

If not, then focusing on taking deeper breathes and filling up your stomach as you do.

This is called diaphragmatic breathing and it has so many benefits.

 

woman deep breathing

Check out our post… 5 Massive Benefits Of Diaphragmatic Breathing

 

Did you notice yourself breathing from your chest?

This type of breathing is more shallow and delivers a lot less oxygen to the blood.

It’s an effect of stress and anxiety.

Having the ability to control your breath is the best way to control your emotions. 

Now, don’t go thinking that we’re talking about rigorous control here.

You don’t have to constantly count your breaths or do anything uncomfortable.

It’s only a matter of learning to pay attention to your breath and consciously calming its flow and rhythm.

Using breath control techniques will allow you to disconnect and connect at the same time.

It allows you to show your monkey mind that even if you take a break, nothing will happen.

Everything won’t crash around you if you stop and take in the air and the sensations you feel.

You deserve and need a moment to yourself.

So, take it!

 

How to Breathe While Meditating

There is no right or wrong way, there’s just your way when it comes to breathing while you meditate so find what works best for you.

When I meditate, I use my breath as a tool to calm and focus my mind.

I use a very simple technique of just breathing in three to six times, ideally through my nose and then just breathing out how however it feels comfortable.

For myself, I usually take the breaths in through my nose and out through my mouth.

From there, I just let my breath taper out to its natural state.

This helps me relax and find my focus immediately.

I also do this when my mind wanders off.

 

So, the big question…

Should you breathe through your mouth or your nose?

Studies show that there are so many benefits from breathing in through your nose.

To be honest, when you think about it, our mouths are designed for eating and talking.

 

how to use your breath when meditating- mouths are for talking

 

And the nose is actually designed for breathing.

It’s got the nose hairs to filter out all the unwanted stuff.

So, I guess nature kind of wanted us to be breathing in through our noses.

It’s also a better way to get more oxygen into our body and our bloodstream.

But, even if there are many benefits to breathing in through your nose, at the end of the day do what feels right.

If it’s more comfortable for you to breathe in through your mouth.

Then, just do that because you want to enjoy doing it, not forcing it.

Another very simple but effective breathwork technique that you can use at the start of your meditation practice is…

 

  • Breathing in for three seconds
  • Holding for three seconds
  • Breathing out for four seconds.

 

This is especially effective if you’ve had a tough day.

Whatever’s been going on throughout your day or in your life, this is a really effective way to get you into a good state for meditating.

Some meditation techniques focus on the sensation of the air going in and out of the nostrils.

Some focus on the diaphragm, filling up with air as you inhale and then exhaling and focusing on the ribs retracting.

The other day when I was practicing, I tried focusing on the whole body and its movements as I was breathing.

After a couple of breaths, I started to notice the natural flow of the body and the breath.

It felt like there was a wave going through me as I breathed in and out. 

There are so many different ways to use your breath while meditating.

So, have fun with it.

 

Practicing Breathwork During The Day

Learning some of the really cool effects of knowing how to use your breath as a tool can have a powerful impact on your day.

The good news is that breathwork is not necessarily related only to your meditation practice.

It’s can be used anyplace and at anytime. 

If you’re like I once was, and you have a hard time in certain social situations or you get anxious easily…

Then, try focusing on your breath and breathing from your belly. 

This will allow you to take a step back and reset. 

You can also use your breath in combination with other mindfulness meditation techniques or with things like practicing gratitude.

Let’s say you’re in the park and the sun is shining and the birds are singing.

Use your breath to be really present and enjoy it. 

Immerse yourself in the sensations of your environment.

Knowing how to use your breath can work wonders in helping you feel content and happy.

 

Conclusion

Obviously, focusing on and controlling your breath is very simple.

But it’s benefits are amazing.

It’s the best way to focus your mind in your daily life and also when you’re meditating.

Understanding it and using it as the powerful tool that it really is will help you get the most out of every day when it comes to mindfulness and meditation.

All you have to do it try out a few different techniques and see what you like best.

Try breathing in through your nose, try breathing in through your mouth, try simple breathwork techniques to improve your ability to control your emotions.

That’s what it’s all about.

Try new some differents techniques and find what you lie the most.

This will help you to get the most out of every meditation practice.

If you want to learn more about meditation then…

 

the ultimate guide to mastering meditation
Check out The Ultimate Guide to Mastering Meditation

 

You’ll find a lot of useful information that can help you start out, be consistent and get the amazing results meditation can bring into your life.

Until next time,

Lachie.

Have you used breathwork before?  Leave a comment below…

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