Breathing Meditation for Stress Relief and Better Sleep
There is a meditation technique that I learned in college while taking a weekly yoga class that has become my go to for whenever I’m feeling extra stress or tension building up in my body. This could be from stress at work, anxiety, or just a busy day. I find that when I finish this meditation I feel at peace, more relaxed, and able to take on whatever may come the next day. I really do believe that spending time in meditation creates an energy or emotional shield around you that allows you to brush off the stress you may encounter on a daily basis.
To begin this particular breathing meditation I would suggest laying on your back on a comfortable surface with your arms relaxed and facing upward and your legs comfortably straight. If there are any yogis reading, this is your savasana pose. Please know that there’s no right or wrong way to do this. Sit, stand, at home, at work, wherever and however you need to have a moment to realign and relax.
Close your eyes and begin to take notice of your breath. Breath in and out slowly as you allow yourself to fully relax your body. Once you feel as though your breathing is even and deep begin to lengthen your exhale. Inhale for 3 counts and exhale for 4 or 5 counts. Once you get within that rhythm of your exhales being longer than your inhales, mindfully begin focusing on parts of your body.
Begin at the top of your head and as you exhale mentally scan down your face, relaxing your brow, your jaw, your neck. Keeping the scan going as long as you are exhaling, pausing to inhale, then continuing to slowly scan as you exhale. Continue on as you exhale and scan down your neck, to your shoulders, your right arm and hand and back up and down your left arm and hand bringing you back to your center. Always pausing as you inhale and scanning as you exhale. You can treat your exhale as the force to push your breath through your body.
This exercise is meant to help you become fully aware of each body part and lead you into deeper relaxation. It allows you to realize areas of stress or tension and gives you the opportunity to focus your healing breath on those areas.
If you come to an area that seems more tense or sore than others, take a few more breaths here as you mentally scan through and become aware of where that tension may stem from.
Continue this breathing exercise throughout your entire body. Even if you are not feeling any stress or soreness this exercise is still great for a reaching a state of meditation and peace. I usually find that if I work slowly this exercise takes me around 10 minutes to complete. I usually complete a few full body scans to really allow myself to wind down and relax.
I often like to practice this in the evenings or before bed. There are even some times when I fall right to sleep and wake up feeling more refreshed than I would have if I would have let myself sleep in that state of stress. Meditation and deep breathing have many health benefits that have been studied over the years including increased energy levels, lower blood pressure, reduced anxiety, better mental focus, and so much more. Personally, I have seen the most improvements with my levels of anxiety and mental focus. It’s definitely a tool I think everyone should have in their arsenal and use regularly.
Be sure to let us know how this breathing technique helped you in the comments below.