Friday, March 26, 2021

Breathing Practice 5 Double Exhale

Breathing is automatic; an involuntary process that just happens. But breath is life. So what happens when we actually give this amazing process attention? That’s when the magic happens!

I hope you have enjoyed the last month trying out heart focus breathing and going back over the previous breathing practice posts. I understand many of you have had difficulty with breathing exercises in the past. In my instruction, I’ve purposely slowed down the steps by creating building blocks from post to post. I believe this is a much better way to explore not only breathing practice but mindfulness as well as meditation. You’re probably thinking that it’s about time I get back to mindfulness since it is our focus for the year. But guess what? Breathing practice opens the door to a more meaningful mindfulness experience and it also makes it easier for those who would like to explore meditation. Without a doubt, breathing practice is when the magic happens!

So, without further ado, let’s get back to breathing. As with heart focus, this is another of my favorite breathing techniques and is the first one I connected with many years ago. For those in the know, it is a variation of what is known as 2-1 breathing. It’s my go-to calming method for instant clarity and relaxation. And I often use it to fall asleep when my mind decides to do otherwise. It is also an excellent exercise to increase lung function because we are pushing the limits of our normal shallow breathing.

  • Sit or lie down and relax in your favorite place. If you are sitting, rest your hands in your lap or lightly on your knees. If you are lying down, rest your hands on your stomach. Relax your jaw and allow soft eyes.
  • Inhale slowly through your nose and notice the coolness. Then exhale through your nose and notice the warmth. This technique informs your mind that you are tuning into awareness.  Do this three times then begin exhaling through your mouth.
  • With each breath slow the inhale and the exhale down a bit until you reach a comfortable rhythm (lesson 1). Let your cares and thoughts float away by coming back home to your breath and how it feels to breathe.
  • When you are ready add deeper breaths slowly. Be aware of how you feel as your deeper breaths relax your lungs (lesson 2).
  • On your next inhalation, mentally count slowly to 4 or more until you are unable to inhale, pause your breath for a 4 count (lesson 3), then very slowly release and fully exhale pushing out every-last-breath as you continue to count to 8 or more. Then repeat. Your goal here is to be able to double the count on your exhale. I like to push this by one count on each breath until I achieve my maximum (think 8 inhale, 16 exhale).
  • You will find this to be a much deeper method of breathing. Once you reach a comfortable rhythm, you may listen for your heartbeat (lesson 4) whenever you pause. As you play with this exercise, try counting further on the inhale, then try holding your breath for a few extra counts or skip holding it altogether and go right into exhaling. This is your time so make this exercise your own. Reminder - if you are not breathing slow and deep enough you may find yourself lightheaded.
  • Enjoy this exercise for 15 minutes or longer each morning, throughout your day as often as you would like, and before you drift off to sleep.

When you are finished, sit for a few minutes bringing your breath back to your natural rhythm. Don’t forget to whisper to yourself thank you - insert your name. And go ahead and give yourself a big hug while you’re at it!

Looking for instant calming in any stress filled situation? Double exhaling is the key. In just three breaths you will find a space that will bring clarity to the moment. Why three? You will notice it will take you three breaths to open your lungs fully allowing more oxygen to flow in which acts like a secret superpower. You’ll notice the more you bring this exercise to a particular moment, you will naturally find yourself doing it without considering it. Magic! Superhero pose anyone?

Stay safe and take care,