Stress is part of life especially in a modern day world of fast-paced living with technology that allows us to be available 24/7. Being overly anxious is not just a mental state, it’s a physical one too. Undue stress and anxiety have damaging effects on the brain and the rest of the body. The more stressed out we are, the more vulnerable we are to colds, flu, and a host of chronic or life-threatening illnesses—and the less open we are to the beauty and pleasure of life.
It is normal to encounter specific situations that may trigger stress and anxiety. Some typical examples are going to the dentist, speaking in public, meeting your boss, undergoing an operation or travelling on an aeroplane.
A situation that makes us feel vulnerable or scared is likely to create an uncomfortable list of anxious symptoms: heart palpitations, sweaty palms, shortness of breath, digestive issues, and negative thoughts.
However, each of us has a portable, inbuilt and powerful antidote:
Breathing is so innate that most of us don’t even pay attention to how we do it, but there is a way to breathe for better health and for stress management.
“Breathing from your diaphragm oxygenates your blood, which helps you relax almost instantly,” says Robert Cooper, PhD, coauthor of The Power of 5, a book of five-second and five-minute health tips. "Shallow chest breathing, by contrast, can cause your heart to beat faster and your muscles to tense up, exacerbating feelings of stress."
“Intentional breathing” is a simple, yet powerful tool for creating feelings of inner peace. This easy practice calms the mind, body and soul.
To prepare, find a comfortable sitting position …
Relax your jaw.
Bring your fingers to your lips and breathe in a deep breath (touching your lips is known to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, your body’s natural pause-button).
Now place your hands in your lap, palms up, and breathe normally.
On the in-breath, say or think the words: “Breathing in, I am calm”.
• On the out-breath, say or think the words “Breathing out, I am relaxed”.
Follow the sensations of your breath as it moves in and out of your body.
Repeat this cycle for up to five minutes.
Hint: Use a timer, so that you can relax into it, and don’t have to worry about watching the clock.
(from The Little Book of Inner Peace by Ashley Davis Bush)
Try adding the meditation blend to your diffuser while you practice.
“There is a relaxing base of vetiver and ethically sourced sandalwood to calm the active mind, the finest frankincense from Oman to deepen the breath – so important for a good meditation – and add focus, and then orange to add a lift. Finally the addition of a drop of black pepper is like a bit of magic that adds a vibrational zing to the whole blend.” - Susan Curtis.
"When you own your breath, nobody can steal your peace" - Unknown
Are you curious about meditation and its ability to relax the mind and body, but have always thought it was too complicated?
If you feel you don't have the time. Maybe you’re stressed about not using your time wisely, or you feel too busy (with kids, work, the new normal) to even contemplate sitting still for a meditation.
Or if you are overwhelmed with all the information out there, and don't know where to start. Perhaps you’ve been thinking about this for a while, but never sit and try it for yourself.
My Beginners masterclass is perfect for you - a short and simple guide to learning the basics of meditation, and it takes just 10 minutes a day. Learn more.