Perhaps you have heard the expression before; the best in life is for free. The love for our children, a walk in the woods, someone else’s hand in yours, swimming in a lake, a smile from a stranger. Still, we continue to chase after more money so that we can buy more things that rarely give us the satisfaction we expect. We keep running without understanding that the best is usually right in front of our noses.
The tool I want to share with you today is not new at all. We all have access to it, all the time. We cannot even choose to put it away. It’s not me who came up with it. But it is surprisingly underused in many people’s everyday lives. Still, it can create healing in our bodies, give us a break from racing thoughts, activate the parasympathetic nervous system and access to our intuition. It is simply a super tool! Can you guess what it is?
Okay, I’m not going to keep you on your toes anymore. But I still want to mention, before I reveal what it is, that it’s up to you. Only you can decide if you want to get the most out of this awesome tool or not. No one else can do it for you, it is simply impossible. So, are you curious about what it is now and willing to give it an honest chance?
Alright, alright, I’ll reveal it! The super tool is… [drum rolls]… your breath! Tadaa!
I know you’ve heard it before. But I still suspect that you may not be using it to its full potential. The breath is the portal to the here and now, to where life happens, where all solutions exist, all magic through our five senses and all your collected wisdom. I want to share three simple breathing exercises that, if you actually choose to do them from time to time, can really change your life. They have changed mine.
When we’re stressed, we have a tendency to inhale more than we exhale, which creates tension in the body. By prolonging your exhalation, you automatically tell the system that it’s okay to relax and let go a little. Inhale on 4-3-2-1, hold on top of the breath 7-6-5-4-3-2-1, exhale on 8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1. Repeat a few times.
Long Deep Breaths
Lie on your back and relax all the way to your fingers, toes and forehead. Inhale and feel how the stomach expands, how the breath travels up towards the chest and eventually up towards the collarbone. Release the breath and rest until your body asks for a new breath. With a little practice, you can get down to 1-4 breaths per minute when you oxygenate so effectively.
A classic mindfulness exercise that is perfect to do in the middle of the work day. First note what thoughts, feelings and sensations you have. Allow everything. Observe without judging. Then pay attention to your breathing. Follow a few breaths all the way in and all the way out. Feel the sensation of the breath, without trying to change it. Then broaden your focus to take in your whole body, your surroundings, your thoughts and feelings. In the beginning, it can be good to put about one minute on each step so that your breathing space takes a total of 3 minutes to do. After a while, you can choose to land here for 10-20 seconds with the hand on the door handle on your way into the meeting room to bring yourself back to the here and now.
That said, we all know that breathing is important but only those who choose to consciously use the super tool get the benefit of it. Which exercise do you choose to focus on in the next week?
This is a guest post. Any opinions expressed are the writer’s own.