Do you BREATHE deeply?
It’s Monday again, and – like last week – I’m back to offer a new 4×4 mini-canvas and share a little anecdote.
One of the things I’ve become good at over the last 15 months is meditation. Seriously, I can sit quietly for a ridiculously long time. That’s not to say that my mind is always quiet, but sometimes I actually get to stillness. When I first started my meditation practice, I was instructed to take 3 deep breaths. I was all, “Whatever. How can this possibly help me?” So I inhaled and exhaled and inhaled and exhaled.
I was hardly in a Zen place.
My teacher put my hand on my stomach. “Breathe so your belly inflates like a balloon,” she said.
Apparently, I’d been breathing backwards all these years.
Once I mastered inhaling and exhaling, I was able to relax more fully.
Who would have thought it was possible to breathe wrong?!
So how do you begin a meditation practice? It’s easy.
1. Sit or lie comfortably.
2. Close your eyes.
3. Make no effort to control the breath; simply breathe naturally.
4. Focus your attention on the breath and on how the body moves with each inhalation and exhalation. Notice the movement of your body as you breathe. Observe your chest, shoulders, rib cage and belly. Make no effort to control your breath; simply focus your attention. If your mind wanders, simply return your focus back to your breath. Maintain this meditation practice for 2–3 minutes to start, and then try it for longer periods.
Sounds easy, right?
Mindful meditation encourages the practitioner to observe wandering thoughts as they drift through the mind. The intention is not to get involved with the thoughts or to judge them, but simply to be aware of each thought as it arises.
Through meditation, I’ve been able to see how my thoughts and feelings move in particular patterns. I have become more aware of the human tendency to quickly judge experience as “good” or “bad” (“pleasant” or “unpleasant”). With practice, an inner balance develops.
In our hurry-hurry-rush-rush world, we sometimes feel guilty when we aren’t doing something.
I’ve soooo over that. Some people pray and some people meditate. Sitting silently is one of the greatest gifts I give to myself each day.
I encourage each of you to try it. Go ahead. Do it right now. Sit quietly and feel the chair beneath you. Feel your feet pressing against the floor. How long can you sit quietly without opening your eyes?
It’s important to take a few moments each day to let go of stress and, to that end, I’m offering BREATHE today for $20.
Have you ever meditated? What was your experience like? What was the biggest surprise for you? What was the biggest frustration?
tweet me @rasjacobson
25 thoughts on “Do you BREATHE deeply?”
A great post, recommendation, tips, and artwork Renee! When I first saw your Breath canvas, it reminded me of my goalkeeping coaches… “tranquillo, tranquillo…and you will get to more balls” (i.e. saves), and then I pass it on to my son (baseball catcher) when he is batting…”tranquillo Ethan, tranquillo.” He sometimes gives me ‘that face’…you know the one, the one which oozes “I got it Dad, I know!” lol
Many of us are sometimes on the verge of hyperventilating aren’t we? 😉
I think that’s a great way to put it, PT. Many of us are truly tottering on hyperventilation! I never knew I was a breath holder until someone pointed it out to me. I think it stems from my gymnastics and dance roots where we were encouraged to suck in our tummies. I’m trying to reform myself and get used to my soft belly, but those are old habits. At least I’m aware of it now, right? Wishing you a peaceful day! xo
I have some horrible(?) advice to further soften your tummy! Drink more delicious wine! Three to four glasses per day! lol (j/k) 😉
Sold — again! I think I may start a collection…although I’ll work faster for you this time.
Thanks again for the reminder to slow down, if only for a couple of minutes, to focus inward. Hopefully it will help my morning go more smoothly.
Hi Lainie. I’m beyond flattered, but this one is sold. Someone sent me a private message. If you’d like me to make something special for you, I’m all ears. Or just wait, I’ll be doing this weekly.
Yes! When did we get to the point that, if we aren’t doing something, anything, we feel a sense of guilt? That’s a whole blog post in itself. 🙂
We certainly are messed up in our culture. We tend to value people for what they do rather than who they are. I’m done with that. And yes, that would make a great blog post. Thanks for the idea. 🙂
And ninety percent of the time, when they say they are busy, they really aren’t. They are being busy at being busy, if that makes sense.
That makes a lot of sense, Wayne. Everyone feels like they are supposed to be busy. I’m enjoying doing what I want to do. I just listened to an NPR broadcast thing this morning about this topic. The speaker was saying that he is ONLY doing things he likes to do. I love this idea so much! Of course, I think it takes some kind of financial cushion to make that happen in the real world. Still, it’s an idea to aspire toward.
Call someone. Ask what they are doing, and they’ll say they are busy. Every time.
But they can get free to go for coffee with you…
I don’t know, Wayne. I think I’ve been fortunate to make friends with people who know how to make the time. Maybe time to take stock of the people with whom you are associating. 😉
I’ve tried 3 times to post a comment here, but I keep falling asleep as I pay attention to my breath.
Slowing down is so important and both counter cultural and counter to my personality…thanks for the reminder! Joking aside, when I pray, I’ve found that keeping my eyes open is actually better than closing my eyes, because I am likely to get sleepy, or wander off in my thoughts, with my eyes closed. Turns out, the admonition for little kids to “close your eyes, fold your hands, and pray” might be useful for keeping them focused and not fooling with their hands, but it doesn’t appear anywhere in the Bible. 🙂
Anyway, enough of my musings…thank you for the reminder!
Hi JT. I think there is some truth in what you are saying. I actually try to keep my eyes open when I breathe, too. Especially at night. I find if I force myself to keep my eyes open, the next thing I know? Well, it’s usually several hours later. And wandering thoughts are normal during meditation: the idea is just to notice them (not judge them or berate yourself for having them), but then go back to the breath. It seems impossible, but you really can train yourself to be more peaceful.
I do this before I sleep each night. It’s the only way I can turn my brain off enough to sleep!
Me too, Jenny! I wish I could teach everyone how to just pay attention to their breath, put their hands on their heart and belly and feel the rise and fall of our bodies, and be amazed that our breath continues – without fail – over and over and over again.
You know me. Every day I breathe, I’m happy for it. 🙂
I’m so thrilled to house the first of several RAS pieces to come. For me, this canvas will serve to remind me to pause in all those almost-boiling-over moments, or when there’s too much (figurative or literal) noise. Now I need to figure out where it’s best placed: in the kitchen, where most meltdowns (mine and the kids’) happen? In my closet (no worries, it’s a walk-in), where I can see it each morning before I start each day? In my laundry room, where I go to escape for a moment of peace? Tough decision. I’ll just have to get more prints… THANK YOU RENEE for this post and for this beautiful art. I love your positivity and am just so thankful that you are on your path back to us.
Hi Monica! I’m so glad that you emailed me so you could get BREATHE! I’m feeling better each day, and part of my newfound confidence comes from the fact that my artwork has been received with so much enthusiasm. I’m sure that wherever you put the little canvas – kitchen, bedroom, closet – it will look just right.
SOLD! Thrilled to be housing the first of many RAS originals–but where to put it? In the kitchen, where the meltdowns happen (mine and the kids’), where I need to quickly regroup and maintain composure before I blow? In the closet (don’t worry, it’s a walk-in), where I think and prepare myself for the day ahead? Or in the laundry room, where I escape to reconnect with my thoughts when the noise (literal and figurative) is too much? Renee, thank you for this post and your canvas, which is so meaningful to me. I am so thankful, also, that you are regaining health and building your path, step by step, back.
Great advice, Renee! I can breathe just fine, but my thoughts hop around like a flea on caffeine, LOL. 😉
I hear that a lot from people, that their thoughts bop around. It takes practice but you can calm down your mind. It’s actually possible.
Hello, lovely! I recently started a free program offered by Oprah and Deepak for 21 days. It’s great and I have been enjoying meditating though my thoughts never stop. I am getting the breathing down! xo
I love the 21 days of meditation. Deepak has some great stuff on YouTube. He’s amazing. And so is she. And so are you. 🙂
Thank you, Naomi! I’ll be in your parts in February for 2 consecutive weekends as Tech has 2 fencing tournaments. You gonna be around?