Focus on Meditation, Diaphragmatic Breath

This is week 3 of a progressive blog. Join us each week as we create our meditation practice.
          As beginners, as soon as you start meditating your mind will attempt to apply labels or memories to all things you see-you are having a thought!   Thoughts are the combination of observed moments processed to create an understanding, an outcome based on these combined observations.  To experience a thought you leave the current moment.  Each time you access your thought records you are separated from the current moment and taken to what you have already experienced.   Meditation is designed to return us to a state of observation, by releasing the body and mind from the constant task of thought, you can hear your soul’s purpose, release your attachment to current reality through understanding, and restart your natural healing abilities.   If you are in a state of observation there are no judgments, no conclusions, no need to accept any thing because there are no thoughts to create these needs.  True meditation is like listening with new ears, seeing with new eyes.
          To ever further explain, meditation in the beginning is like trying to hear what someone is saying during a rock concert from the other side of the auditorium.  The band is the everyday distractions that you are use to, you are comfortable with them and like that they are there.  The audience is like your thoughts, random, varied, useful.   The language of meditation is like sign language for most of us– you can pick up a little of what is being said, but you don’t really know what any of it means. 
With practice you can:
        1.  Become oblivious to the band or just turn them off-eliminating this distraction during your meditation.  You can eliminate distractions such as noise or uncomfortable positions you are in. 
        2.  Stop paying attention to the distractions that the audience offers, your feelings about how someone looks, our thoughts about their actions.  Watching the audience causes you to look away from the person signing across the auditorium, each time you look away you miss part of the conversation-this is what your thoughts do to you, cause you to miss vital parts of the communication during your meditation.
        3.  Learn sign language through observation, over time you start to recognize patterns that convey meaning.  It is then that you can hear what is being said from the other side of the auditorium, from your soul, because you have learned to speak the language of symbols and images.
        When you meditate you go beyond feelings of who am I, what do I want out of life, why do I feel so lost and alone all the time, and you receive answers!  When done properly, meditation is therapy, your moment to realize your truth. 
On that note, what is the next step of creating a solid foundation for your meditative practice? Diaphragmatic Breathing.  This was a bit of a challenge for me because I was a person who did most of my breathing in my chest activating the fight or flight mode in my body.  In fact the first 10 days of doing diaphragmatic breathing for me were painful because I was using muscles that I was not use to.  Keep in mind that I was doing 15 minutes 3 times a day when I started practicing this breath.  
  How is it done?  Lie down on your back,
one palm placed on the center of your chest and the other on the lower edge of your rib cage where the abdomen begins.  As you inhale, the lower edge of the rib cage should expand and the abdomen should rise.  As you exhale the opposite should take place.  There should be very little movement in the upper chest and shoulders.  By practicing diaphragmatic breathing you will find that the exercise will become automatic and will create a way of breathing that is both beneficial and calming. Do this in the space you have created, 1-3 minutes three times a day. 


Questions and Answers:
What is this weeks practice?  Diaphragmatic Breath 1-3 minutes 3 times a day.

Are there any side effects to this form of breathing?  Most people will feel no physical side effects, but will notice that over all they will begin to feel more relaxed in their day.

Why do I get dizzy when I do Diaphragmatic Breathing?  You are breathing too fast or too shallow.  Slow down your breath to a more relaxed pace.  Counting helps.  Your breath in should be strong and full filling up the abdomen at a count of  4, to balance the exhale should be twice as long at 8 counts, with a complete release of all the air in your lungs pushing out with the diaphragm.


Can I use this breath all the time?  Absolutely.  In fact it is encouraged.  The upper chest breath that you do is suppose to be used for extreme circumstances by your body to get more oxygen to the brain and less to the body.  When you revert to the proper form of breathing in your diaphragm more oxygen is distributed to the body helping us over all to handle stress better in your everyday lives.


Why is this breath important?  I will cover this next week when you talk about progressive relaxation using your meditative breath 😉

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