Breathe in and breathe out. Now close your eyes and stay still. Breathe in and out once more. Focus on the quiet and the stillness of the world around you. Doesn’t this sound relaxing?
We breathe without even thinking, so why is there such a focus on breathwork or even meditation in today’s discussion around mental health? More importantly, how can conscious thought around a subconscious action significantly improve your quality of life?
Believe or not, breathwork and meditation work wonders in reducing stress, relieving anxiety, improving heart health, sharpening your memory, and treating symptoms of depression in some people. It’s not theory, but scientific fact that learning how to breathe improves your quality of life. The following will cover some key differences between breathwork and meditation and also guide you in establishing a simple routine to breathe better.
What’s the difference between meditation and breathwork?
Meditation sounds intimidating. If you’ve practiced it before, it can sometimes feel frustrating to concentrate on the quiet or even feel a bit boring. I mean, imagine being in a noisy city, a room full of little ones, or just hearing the small noises of life buzzing around your head. Meditation is more advanced and can be established as you practice breathwork.
Breathwork feels more achievable if you’re just starting out, and it can be practiced on its own. In addition to focusing on being still and quiet, you also concentrate on how to breathe.
Why should I apply this to my day-to-day life?
If nothing else, taking the time to breathe is relaxing. It gives you a break from the world around you and helps you clear your mind. And research does indeed back the benefits of breathing. According to a study published in 2017, participants that completed breathwork training had significantly lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol than those who did not do breathwork.
Studies have also found this act can boost your attention span, aid in pain management, and even reduce symptoms of depression. So with all these amazing health benefits, instead maybe ask yourself why not?
Are there different techniques to choose from?
There are many ways to approach breathwork, but it’s most important to discover which technique works best for you. I’ve personally tried the Wim Hof method, which works wonders for me and my schedule. With this technique, you are rapidly breathing until you feel tingly all over, which essentially results in a controlled stress response. Check out the Wim Hof method website for more information on how to perform this breathing technique.
If you’re looking for simple breathwork practices, additional techniques can be found here. No matter what your day looks like, there are many breathwork practices that can be used to fit into your routine and lifestyle!
Establishing a breathing or meditation routine that works for you.
Make it easy for yourself. The best way to establish a new habit or routine is by making it accessible to you and your life.
For example, you could set your alarm earlier to do five minutes of breathwork, work it into your lunch break, or scratch it into your daily to-do list. Once you find a technique that works best for you, it’s like breathing – automatic, easy, and subconscious.
A six-minute breathing meditation can be found here. Your mental health is worth it!