What is My Best Powerful Tool to Transform Your Life?
Mindfulness…. it’s the best powerful tool I know of that you can use to help you transform your life.
Are you a newbie or are you a seasoned veteran with decades of experience in mindfulness?
Chances are it doesn’t matter how experienced you are, you probably sense that you’ve only scratched the surface of what mindfulness can do for you.
Some people find mindfulness enjoyable and rewarding— but they sense that there is something more to the practice that could potentially have a powerful impact on them.
In fact most us know that meditation is a valuable practice! New data has been emerging supporting the powerful positive effects of mindfulness on behavior, awareness, blood pressure, stress and our ability to deal with everyday life challenges.
Have you ever wondered what the experience of mindfulness meditation can do for you?
Can mindfulness take you beyond mere relaxation or stress reduction?
Is mindfulness a powerful tool for you to use in your life?
Mindfulness is now being accepted as treatment by many of the traditional medical professions. There are studies proving that the power of mindfulness and meditation improves your health, and enhances your well-being. Check out my best tips on Mindfulness here.
How can you use the power of Mindfulness in your everyday life?
There are many different types of meditation that you can try.
Some of these include Body Scan, Loving-Kindness, Kundalini yoga, Zen meditation, Transcendental, Breath Awareness….and more.
These meditation are often of two main types.
1. Concentration Meditation: Mindful meditations that ask us to focus your attention on something. You can focus on a mantra, a sound, an object like a candle, or mandala or even your BREATH.
2. Awareness-based meditation: This type of meditation also known as Insight meditation or Non-dual meditation. The goal of this type of meditation is not concentration or focusing on objects. Instead it helps you to go beyond the mind, and promote an awareness or presence. It helps you to distance yourself from your thoughts and feelings temporarily, rather than instantly identifying with them.
With all the different types of meditations, chances are you have found one that you like to follow or would like to explore. Today I am not going to go into the details of the different types of meditation. I’ll leave that for another day.
Instead I am going to discuss the importance of the powerful use of the ‘breath’ in meditation! However, before I do….I want to explore some of the mistakes you might be making in your mindfulness practice.
Have you ever wondered why meditation may not be working for you?
Here are 3 of the most common meditation mistakes that may be causing you to become frustrated with your mindful practice..
1. You need to actually DO IT! – Are you a procrastinator?
We all know most things, including meditation works better if you do it. Often you have good intentions but you may not follow through.
My Secret Tip #1: Tell yourself “I’m only going to sit for 2 minutes”. Then set the timer and when the timer goes off, ask yourself whether you’d like to continue or quit. Often you will feel pretty good after just doing those first 2 minutes – regardless if you continue or decide to quit. What you are doing when you follow through with daily daily meditation is making it become a habit. This habit hopefully will lead you to a lifetime practice of Mindfulness and all its health benefits.
2. You take SHORT CUTS
Mindfulness can be done while you are in the car, walking, gardening, or washing dishes. Broadening the meditation to include other parts of the day is important and valuable. HOWEVER, it is important, in addition to these mindful activities, to set some time aside for formal practice. This time is typically at least 20 minutes for the practice to be most effective.
My Secret Tip #2a: Set a clock so you are not disrupted. This practice will deepen with time.
Meditation is an all-day every day practice, meaning it is meant to be practise anytime / anywhere. In fact, the point of meditation is for you to eventually live the meditation, you want to erase the line between practice and non-practice.
My Secret Tip #2b: Try practicing with your eyes open sometimes. This will help you be mindful while you go on with your day or when you are having that difficult conversation.
3. You RELY on guided meditations
Guided meditations can help you get in touch with your inner self, but you do not always want to rely on them every time you practice. When you rely on someone else to talk you through the experience, it can become a crutch.
My Secret Tip #3: Try spending some time on your meditation pillow without any guidance.
There’s a time to have an experienced guide but sometimes you want to do it on your own. I think a combination of both guided and solo meditations are your best bet.
So now that you are aware of some of the things you shouldn’t do, lets take a look at what you should do. I think you are ready to hear what my #1 Tip is…
My Best Powerful Tool for YOUR Mindfulness Practice!
You probably already guessed it – YOUR BREATH is a Powerful Tool! You can use your breath in your mindful practice any time you need to return to the present moment. One way to practice doing this is through Mindful breathing.
What is Mindful Breathing?
Mindful Breathing: It’s the ability to use your breath to return to the present moment any time you need to. I think it is a gift! The cool thing is it’s a built-in tool to help you tap into the present moment. As you practice Mindful Breathing you will become aware of what a powerful resource the breath is for you. The breath is ready for you anytime you may need it. You can use your breath to come back to the present moment anytime…. anywhere.
In order for your breath meditation to work for you, you have to BELIEVE in its power. The best way to develop this belief is through mindful practice. Try taking a deep a breath in, inhaling as much air as you can. Hold it for a few seconds. Let it all out. How do you feel? Do you get a feeling of peace, calm?
There are a number of Breath Awareness techniques or meditations you can try or practice. I like to have 5 or 6 (1/2 a dozen) that I use depending on how I’m feeling or the situation I’m in.
- Sitting Meditation – This meditation uses the breath as the primary object of awareness. Check out a sitting meditation on the MBSR site https://palousemindfulness.com/MBSR/week2.html
- Mindful Breathing Meditation-This meditation involves focusing on your breath to help settle your mind. You can Download the script here.
- Count Your Breaths – This meditation has you count each breath. As you sit you want to count your breath as follows: In breath is 1, out breath is 2; in breath is 3, out breath is 4; in breath is 5, out breath is 6; in breath is 7, out breath is 8; in breath is 9, out breath is 10. (Repeat your counting of your breaths1 to 10, as often as you want for the duration of your mindful session)
- Count to 4 Breath Work – This meditation uses the count to 4 breath work to help you focus on your breath and keep your mind from wandering. Breathe in through your nose for 4, Hold for 4, Breathe out through your mouth for 4 – (repeat this 4 or 5 times)and then let your breath settle into a natural pattern. If you mind wanders and it usually does, go back to the “count to 4” pattern of breathing. When you are ready to end the meditation – repeat the “count to 4” and allow yourself to come back to present and then open your eyes.
- Morning Meditation – This meditation has you take 3 deep breaths – Deep breath in through your nose, let it out through your mouth; Deep breath in through your nose, let it out through your mouth; Deep breath in through your nose, let it out through your mouth; Then allow your breath to rest in a natural rhythm inhaling and exhaling through your nose. Next: Once your relaxed Say the following:
Inhale Grace, Exhale Fear
Inhale Love, Exhale Overwhelm
Inhale Joy, Exhale Anxiety
Inhale Calm, Exhale Overwhelm
Then allow your breath to go back to natural rhythm (for as long as you want). End the meditation with a repeat of Inhale Grace, Exhale Fear phrases.
Lastly you might change the last line to say “You can choose calm” on your Inhale and on the Exhale, you can say, “Or you can choose overwhelm” Gently open your eyes… you are ready to go on with your day.
I like this meditation for those days when things just don’t go as I hoped or planned them. It helps plant a ‘seed’ to help you deal with those unexpected issues. Sometimes challenging circumstances can send us off track. Often we can get caught up in expectations or demands that we put on ourselves or others put on us. This meditation helps bring me back to the present moment by using my breath. Give it a try to see if it works for you.
I’d love to hear in the comments if you tried any of these meditations and how they made you feel. Or if you do a different breath meditation I’m always looking for new ones to add to my repertoire.
A Typical Breath session would look something like this:
- I like to sit on my meditation pillow, but you can use a chair, floor, or even lie down on a bed.
- Get comfortable
- Gently close your eyes if you like or gaze down in front of you
- Take a few deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth
- On your 3rd or 4th exhale let your breath find its own normal rhythm
- Relax your jaw and allow face to soften
- Release tension in neck
- Let go of stress in shoulders, arms, hands, and neck
- Let your chest fall with each passing breath
- Relax your belly, give permission to allow your belly to expand and contract
- Release any remaining tension and let whole body relax
- Begin paying attention to your breath and notice how your breath moves through your body …you don’t have to control your breath….just notice it….
***Now you can do any of the above breath meditations.
My final thoughts:
Your breath is always with you! It is the most powerful tool you have in your Mindfulness Practice tool kit. You don’t need any special room, clothes or equipment. When we want to be present whether we are working on a report, reading a book, having a conversation with a spouse or a friend … you want be mindful and present….Being aware of your breath during these times, brings you back to the present moment allowing you to be focused on the task at hand.
I don’t know about you, but when I’m feeling stressed, anxious and overwhelmed, it’s nice to know I have a ‘choice’ I can make to bring me back to the present moment.
The more we “dial down” our stress and connect with ourselves, the happier and more resilient we become.
I leave you with the this – You are not your thoughts; you are not your illnesses; you are not your challenges or problems. Sometime you may feel that way, but it’s just not true. You now have the power to “choose overwhelm or you can choose calm”.
Of course it’s not always that easy, but it can be that simple. Remember to ‘tap’ into your breath – with the most powerful tool.
Let mindfulness be your guide….
I’d be honored if you want to share my article with your friends or family or on social media.
Quote: “Whenever the going gets tough, take a deep breath, and know that when life gives you a set back you always have the ability to have a come back.” Louise Hay
Here are some affirmations to help you along. I like to have several affirmations that I write in my journal to choose from. Sometimes I use one a day and sometime I use the same one all week. You can decide for yourself what works for you! Feel free to use any of the following or make up one for yourself.
These affirmations are from Louise Hay:
“I am love. All is well.”