When we think of nutrition, we often think about food. One of the things that we seldom think about is the air that we breathe. External factors may not allow us to control the actual air quality of the outdoors. However, we can do one thing that will change the way we feel and absorb oxygen. It promotes our immune system and can block or reduce some harmful bacteria and germs that can cause us to get sick. That one thing is the way we breathe and we can practice it in our meditation.
How To Do Breathing Meditation
Many of our readers and visitors ask us for a guided walkthrough in written form. While there are many ways and no one "right" way, below is one that we use often at Boundless Gratitudes. It is based on a four-fold breath in and three-fold hold. In other words, you breathe in for a count of four seconds, and you hold for a count of three seconds. Then, you slowly breathe out for a count of four seconds, and you hold for a count of three seconds. At the bottom of this article is a breathing meditation script. Try it and let us know how it goes for you. :)
How To Breathe
Do Not: Mouth Breathing
To get the "do not" out of the way: One way of breathing that is not recommended by health professionals, including dentists, is what is called "mouth breathing". The reason is because breathing through your nose actually creates nitric oxide. Nitric oxide (NO) is released in the nasal airways when we inhale. During inspiration through the nose the NO will follow the airstream to the lower airways and the lungs. Nitric oxcide (NO) derived from nasal breathing improves your lungs ability to absorb oxygen.
In addition, breathing through your nose can help filter out dust and allergens, boost your oxygen uptake, and humidify the air you breathe in. Mouth breathing, on the other hand, can dry out your mouth. This may increase your risk of bad breath and gum inflammation.
Do Breathing In Nose Out Nose
Breathing through the nose helps remove a significant share of germs, irritants and bacteria from each lungful of air you breathe. It's easier to breathe regularly when you inhale and exhale through your nose.
Do: Breathing In Nose Out Mouth
At times, breathing through your mouth is necessary. For example, when you have an increase in physical activity or sinus congestion. If you are able to, try to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. It is also a helpful technique to breathe out of your mouth when visualizing "expulsion" of bad energy or toxins.
Breathing Meditation Techniques
The Stimulating Breath is also called the Bellows Breath and it’s great for increasing alertness and energy. It can take some practice to perfect but once you do, you’ll feel invigorated and will become completed addicted to the way it makes you feel. Here are the steps:
- Quickly inhale and exhale through your nose, as short as possible, ensuring the duration is equal for both
- Aim to get three inhales and exhales per second
- Continue for five seconds
- Slowly increase your time throughout your practice until you reach one full minute
Alternate Nostril Breathing
Another common breathing technique used during meditation and yoga is the alternate nostril breathing – and yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like. Doing this technique allows you reenergize your mind, body and spirit. Here are the steps:
- Plug your right nostril with your right thumb
- Take a deep breath through the left nostril
- Remove your thumb from your right nostril and plug your left nostril with your ring finger
- Slowly exhale
Sama vritti (equal breathing) is a yoga technique proven to help lower stress and increase calm. It is a breathing technique that’s certain to help calm the mind, body and soul is called equal breathing. It’s perfect for reducing stress, calming your nerves and increasing focus, and can be done anywhere and at any time. Here are the steps for this breathing technique:
- Take a slow inhale through your nose for a count of four
- Slowly exhale through your nose for a count of four
This technique is promoted by Dr. Andrew Weil.
Before starting the breathing pattern, adopt a comfortable sitting position and place the tip of the tongue on the tissue right behind the top front teeth.
To use the 4-7-8 technique, focus on the following breathing pattern:
- empty the lungs of air
- breathe in quietly through the nose for 4 seconds
- hold the breath for a count of 7 seconds
- exhale forcefully through the mouth, pursing the lips and making a “whoosh” sound, for 8 seconds
- repeat the cycle up to 4 times
Benefits of Breathing Meditation
Here are some breathing meditation benefits.
- Activates your energy
- Control or reduce anger
- Improves sleep
- Increases mindfulness
- Reduces anxiety
- Reduces stress
Breathing Meditation Script
Find a preferential quiet space, be it an inviting green space, a stately tree on which to rest your back, a water’s edge, a comfy corner, your car, it matters not. Sit and be still, allow your focus to be with your breath, and as you breathe in, count gently to four, hold it for three, easefully release for another gentle count of four, patiently await the next breath for three. Allow the next breath to show up, and count unhurriedly to four, hold for three, release for four, await for three, and repeat this nourishing cycle ten times. When complete, gently and deliberately, say thank you, thank you, thank you—heartfully.
Notice how quiet you have inevitably become, and relish this moment of limitless peace. You may start your day with this breath, end the pace of the day with this practice, or stop and grace yourself with this gift when the need arises.