Meditation focused on the breath used to bring me a lot of anxiety, agitation, frustration, fear, and a feeling of being uncomfortable in my own skin. There was an underlying feeling of control and lack-there-of, with this style of meditation, so I usually avoided it. Instead I would meditate on a word, a verse, being in nature, or I used actions like washing dishes, singing, and yoga to bring me into the present moment, these were things I could control. Just recently, however, I came across some info that explained that breath-focused-meditation literally demonstrates that we are not in control: the breath is something that changes and morphs with each moment in quality, depth, sound, sensation, inside of us/from us/through us, so using breath-focused-meditation is a technique to build trust and let go. Breath-focused-meditation therefore builds faith: we face fears head-on, we surrender to the Divine, we work through struggles, and with regularity, the breath shows us that moments and life change but we will be ok, transformation happens and we can move with this flow of breath and life, if we so choose. This simple explanation has changed everything for me and now I’m longing to use breath as my meditative focal point.
For so long I’ve been trying to control my thoughts in breath-focused-meditation, violently pushing thoughts away and forcing myself to “come back to the breath,” pushing thoughts away and chastising myself to “stay present.” This was my way of control, or should I say, lack of trust, and thus I built anxiety, frustration, and discomfort. It’s no wonder I didn’t like this style of meditation! Now that I realize breath is the physical representation of faith, of the Divine, I’m experiencing a subtle shift and I’m letting go, trusting. In my meditation practice when I notice the feeling of anxiety I pause, and take a step back, and gently and easily turn my attention back to the breath; when I notice feelings of frustration, I pause and acknowledge these feelings, I take a step back and gently turn my attention back to the breath; when I notice thoughts racing through my mind, I pause, I take a step back, and easily turn my attention back to the breath and I become present. Instead of forcefully pushing thoughts away and chastising myself, I acknowledge these thoughts and feelings: I call them out and literally label them “thinking,” “feelings,” or “judgement,” and maybe most significantly, I step back and observe. As I separate myself from the thoughts, I then gently come back to the breath and the flow of it, and I build faith, I build a deeper connection with the Lord. With this subtle practice, I come back to the moment, this one right now, and I center myself with grace and ease on this flow. This stepping back and separating my identity from thought, this stepping back and separating myself from feelings, this stepping back and trusting in the breath and flow of life has made all the difference and my practice builds peace. This watching, observing, and acknowledgment of thinking and feeling loosens the hold my mind tries to have on my spirit and soul. This stepping back and witnessing breath is building a harmony in my triune being and I am loving the effects.
Meditation is work and sometimes anxiety still rears it’s ugly head, but I smile at it, I notice it, I label it, I call it out, and I gently come back to the breath and the moment, over and over again, as I learn anew who the Divine is. With this practice we separate ourselves from thoughts and take a step back because we are not thoughts, we have thoughts. This serves to remind our self that are not a mind, we have a mind. We are much bigger than thoughts and feelings, we are spiritual beings having a human experience. Meditation is the practice to bring this truth into our everyday world. This practice is getting easier and peace is more present than ever before, and I’m liking the vibe.
Studies from the medical community show meditation increases concentration, confidence, self-esteem/self-love, and allows for a faster recovery from illness. Meditation encourages neuroplasticity in the brain which increases creativity and positive emotions like empathy, cooperation, love, peace, and free expression. I aim for at least 10 minutes of meditation a day but as one begins the practice, guided meditations are often the most helpful and accessible. You can find four, 30-minute guided meditations with my Yoga Nidra
, plus you’ll get all the benefits of this specific style, including 2-hours of sleep. Each 30-minute Yoga Nidra has the equivalent effect of 2-hours of sleep. It’s a great morning meditation when you didn’t get a good night’s sleep, a great afternoon pick-me-up, or use it to fall asleep. Learn more about the specific meditative benefits of Yoga Nidra here