Meditation is a powerful tool that calms your body, relaxes your mind, and helps you manage the fatigue and stress of a hectic practice. If you would like to start integrating meditation into your day, the following are three simple breathing exercises you can do in a matter of minutes:
- Fogging the mirror. Put your hand in front of your mouth and breathe into it with your mouth open, as if fogging up a mirror. Close your mouth and continue breathing in this manner. Focus on the sound of your breath echoing in your throat; it may sound like ocean waves. This exercise works well if youâ€™re stuck in traffic or being pulled in too many different directions at work.
- Muscle release. Locate a place on your body that feels tense. Shoulders, stomach, jaw, and forehead are common hot spots for most people. Squeeze the muscles in this area while inhaling deeply through your nose. Hold for a few seconds. As you release the breath through your mouth, let the muscles relax and loosen. Repeat the sequence a few times before moving on to another tense body part. This exercise is most effective if your mind is racing or your body is sore from sitting or standing all day.
- Belly breathing. Place one hand on your stomach and start taking deep breaths in through your nose. Make sure your breath gets all the way down into your stomach; you should see your hand moving in and out with each breath. As you inhale, count in your mind, "one, two, three, four." As you exhale, count in your mind, "four, three, two, one." Use this exercise when you want to de-stress quickly, such as before meeting with a patient or answering phone calls. Pick one breathing exercise to try for a few days. As you integrate this simple meditation technique into your daily routine, you will notice decreased stress levels and increased concentration.
Christi Lehner-Collins is a certified holistic health counselor based in Boston, Mass. She specializes in helping busy professionals all over the world practice stress-free healthy eating and guilt-free self-care. She welcomes questions or comments at christi@ bostonhealthcoach.com. For more information and free resources, visit www.bostonhealthcoach.com.