Focused breathing and meditation is an important component of maintaining a balanced mental, spiritual and physical life, but during times of stress and unease, they are even more valuable skills.
Elizabeth Irvine, founder and creator of True Wellbeing, walks us through focused breathing and meditating exercises introducing the concept of meditation in a thoughtful, manageable way. She sat down with our editorial team for a Q&A that we hope you will find as valuable as we did.
Now, inhale, exhale, focus and release.
LTG: Why is focused breathing important before meditation?
EA: Breathing is something we do 24/7 whether we think about it or not. When we sit down to meditate, to use a simple conscious breathing technique soothes our body and therefore begins to slow down our mind and we begin to relax and let go a little bit more. I teach a simple abdominal (belly) breathing technique that works like a dream. (Here is an excerpt from Healthy Mother Healthy Child)
Let’s do it now. Bring your attention to your breath. Follow your breath and allow your mind to become the observer, watch your breath coming in and go back out. Rest your hand on your abdomen, place your thumb on your navel and let your other four fingers fan below. Feel your breath in your abdomen and notice how your abdomen is gently rising and falling in rhythm with your breathing. As you breath in your abdomen rises. As you breath out your abdomen falls. This takes some concentration. It becomes easier with practice. Focus on your natural rhythm, smooth and effortless, breath in and out. Let your breath soothe you, take you to a place of comfort— the thoughts of the day begin to disappear and life feels easier.
LTG: How can we use breathing to quiet anxiety?
EA: Anytime we take our attention to where we want it to go, we are more relaxed and focused. For me, learning to watch my thoughts and my body’s response ( such as feeling anxious) is a life-time practice. It’s like training a puppy, we have to continually use tools to help us re-train our attention. To learn how to feel a calm sense of confidence. I feel breathing techniques are a great way to help us do that.
LTG: What are the benefits of guided meditation?
EA: A guided meditation makes sitting quietly easier. It gives our mind something to focus on, to be re-directed when our mind wanders off. It’s like having a built in best friend to nudge you, guide you. https://www.elizabethirvine.com/audio
LTG: How often do you recommend meditating?
EA: In my personal experience my 20 minute morning meditation is a non-negotiable time I look forward to each day. I've been meditating almost 30 years now and for me it’s the single most important thing I do in my day. It grounds me while simultaneously inspires me to look within and connect to a higher force that guides me through my day.
For someone who has never meditated before, small steps are best. Try sitting quietly and watch your breath for 5 minutes. Allow the relaxed feeling to soak in and gradually, slowly, over days to come increase to a 20 minute session.
ABOUT OUR LIFETOGO PROFESSIONAL
Elizabeth Irvine is a nurse, educator, and award-winning author. Her philosophy and teachings are based on thirty years experience as a health care professional and through her yogic style of living. In her approach to wellness, she fuses modern technology with thousands of years of natural wisdom to reach beyond the use of conventional medicine.
Irvine’s books, Healthy Mother Healthy Child and A Moment’s Peace provide women and families a simple guide for bringing peace and serenity into the home. The Jewelry Project creates a tangible keepsake paired with Meditations From the Earth.
Her experience as a speaker and workshop presenter include places such as Miraval Resort, Tucson AZ, and M.D. Anderson’s Integrative Medicine Program; writing and producing video, workshops and yoga programs for numerous organizations, currently at the Jung Center and the Houstonian Health Club & Spa and leads retreats for intimate groups in locations around the world. A new focus of her work is one-to-one sessions and online education.