PBP Tip #2: Breathe
PBP (Professional Busy Person) Tip #2
This may sounds silly, since we all do this everyday without really thinking about it, but taking the time to breathe intentionally can have a significant effect on how your brain processes the challenges that come up on the daily.
Taking just 5 minutes when you feel overwhelmed to stop and breathe without doing or thinking about anything else can give you a whole new perspective on the situation at hand. Not to mention, it's easy! You can do it anytime, anywhere. All you need is yourself and the ability to create a quiet space around you.
There are 2 basic breathing techniques that I like to turn to when I need a moment to regroup, refocus, & relax: Soft Belly Breathing & Alternate Nostril Breathing.
Soft Belly Breathing requires paying attention to your diaphragm, located just below your heart. You can do this lying down or sitting upright in a chair with your feet flat on the floor. I like to sit on the floor and close my eyes to avoid any distractions. As you inhale, your diaphragm lowers, creating room for your lungs to fill with air. As you exhale, it rises as your lungs deflate, creating a relaxing sensation. It may help to place your fingers over your belly, forming a diamond shape around your naval. This way you can feel the movement of your breath, as your diaphragm lowers and rises. You should feel your lower belly expand as you inhale and contract as you exhale. As you inhale, let the air fill your low belly first, then rise up through your chest. Try not to breath in you chest alone. I find it most useful to practice in the morning when I sit at my desk, before I begin any work. I take 10 intentional breaths using this method, and I feel clear minded and ready to start my work. Choose the time of day that works for you and stick with it. The benefits will only add up over time.
Alternate Nostril Breathing involves balancing the two hemispheres of the brain. As with Soft Belly Breathing, you can do this lying or sitting down. With your eyes closed, focus on your 3rd eye (mid brain). You can do this figuratively or you can physically (with your eyes closed) shift your eyes so they are looking towards the point between your eyebrows. Not only will this help you focus, but I also find that it relieves any tension in my forehead (great for headaches!). Then, with one hand, you will use your thumb and ring finger to breathe in and out of each nostril separately. Start by closing one nostril with your thumb, take a deep breath in, release your thumb and close your other nostril with your ring finger and exhale. From here, inhale through through that same nostril and then close it with your thumb again and exhale through the other side. Inhale left, exhale right, inhale right, exhale left, etc. Remember you should only have one nostril open at a time. Go back and forth until your breaths become long and deep (back and forth around 5-10 times). When you are finished, notice any differences you feel in your head and/or your body. Are you more clear, more relaxed?
Please share any of your experiences with either of these basic breathing exercises. Also, be on the lookout for PBP #3!