I shared an incredibly effective and useful technique in a few of my classes last week and thought: why would I only keep this good shit in class? Just because you may not be able to come to one of my classes physically, doesn’t mean you should be denied one of the most useful, easy, and powerful tools to help ease up a busy mind. So voila!
This technique can be used this during the day if you’re feeling anxious or stressed, and also at night if your mind won’t turn off and you are having a hard time falling asleep. The best part is, it’s totally portable and you don’t need anything you don’t already have.
It’s your breath.
Of course it’s not just any breath, it’s specifically your exhales. Focusing on exhales calms your nervous system and helps you relax.
So, what do you do?
You start by either sitting or lying down comfortably.
Close your eyes.
Take a few deep breaths to gain contact with your breath. Then let it relax into its natural rhythm.
Let your attention get really interested in your exhales.
Notice the way your exhales feel along the walls of your nostrils. Notice the warmth and humidity. Pay close attention to the rise and especially the fall of your belly. Where does the exhale start: the chest, belly, low abdomen?
Don’t try to avoid noticing the inhales, it’s not possible and it will create more anxiety.
Instead, notice them but don’t pay as close attention to them. Let the inhales happen, so that you can get more into your exhales.
Once you let go into the cadence of your breath and are able to focus on your exhales you may also notice a space between the breaths.
There may be a moment of emptiness and it might be nice to rest there for a moment before taking the next inhale breath. Let it be easy. No need to hold or retain the exhale. Just settling into the space if it’s there, and if it’s not, no worries: you can’t do this wrong.
You will notice thoughts trying to creep in, or totally take over, and that’s normal.
Don’t worry about it. Let your thoughts go with your exhales. The freer you can keep your mind the more relaxed you will be, but thoughts will be there so don’t make them a problem. As you notice them, simply let them go.
If you are doing this during the day even 2 to 5 minutes will make a world of difference for you.
If you are using this to help you fall asleep (I SWEAR by this technique, I do it whenever I have a hard time.) do it until you sleep. It might feel like it’s not working, and you might be impatient because your mind is so busy, and have faith: if you do it long enough you WILL fall asleep. It just might take 10 minutes, which is a small price to pay if you normally can’t sleep for hours!
I’d like to hear what you do to manage stress and anxiety. What are your go-to’s when you start to get wound up or can’t sleep? Please share your comments below.
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