I’ll skip the history and get to the main points. Meditation has been used for a very long time, and it is incredibly powerful. It involves deep breathing or diaphragmatic breathing and some form of concentration or visualization. The deep breathing is like when watching babies breathe when their bellies expand. This is how we should breathe, but we tend to take short and shallow breaths more from the chest area. Not sure what religion this comes from, and it doesn’t matter, but the idea is that we all are given a certain amount of breaths each lifetime, and when we run out, well you guessed it, we die. Makes a good argument to take longer and deeper breaths doesn’t it? This type of breathing and various versions are also often used in exercise such as yoga, tai chi and qi gong. What is most important for you to know is that we all should be doing this. Everyone has some stress if not too much. Even people who own their own islands and have staff to cook for them, do their hair, style them and tell them how to work out will have some kind of stress. We tend to sometimes create it, as it’s become a part of our way of living, at least in the US.
Anxious people need to be doing some form of breathing and or meditation daily. Over time the central nervous system adjusts to help you maintain a sense of calmness. It’s cumulative in a good way, much like too much stress weakens the immune system making us sick. So how do I breathe Dr. Umfer? It is so simple and so effective. Again we tend to complicate things, when we would be better served to keep it simple.
Take a long breathe in through your nose. Put our hand over your belly and see if it is expanding, or are you still feeling it in your chest. Women especially are taught to suck those guts in. This is not the time, ladies, so let it all hang out. Nobody would even notice anyway, again we tend to overreact to things. So take a long breath in and then slowly let it out through your nose. You might want count how many seconds you can inhale, how many seconds you can hold it then how many seconds it takes to exhale before needing to inhale again. Then you have numbers that you can focus on; there’s your concentration part. Breathe and count. You can also get more creative and chant oms or a mantra, which is a meaningful word that you associate with relaxing. It can be ‘relax’ or anything. You can make anything possible with your imagination.
DO NOT think about something that has caused you to be angry while breathing. A patient of mine once told me that “this breathing shit doesn’t work.” Of course knowing how effective it is, I knew he wasn’t doing it right. Come to find out he was thinking about the person that pissed him off while breathing, which served to reinforce his anger. So if you are that angry then breathe later. You’ll need to make it up to your adrenals anyway, so do it later. Over time, with consistent practice, you’ll be able to calm yourself down and may find that you don’t get that angry to begin with. When meditating, it is best to be in a quiet, undisturbed place where you can close your eyes. It is ok to lie down, but if you fall asleep the first time, try it in a sitting position. People fall asleep either due to poor sleep hygiene (you’re tired or overstressed) or due to having problems sitting still, since that is when emotions we don’t want to address come to the surface.
A simple beginner meditation: This meditation will help ground you and make you feel safe. You don’t have to be spiritual or religious to do this. Just humor me and try it a few times. You can’t tell me it doesn’t work unless you actually do it, the right way. Begin by doing the breathing exercise just described. Then begin to imagine a white light surrounding you in a bubble and until it expands about a foot away from you. For those who are spiritual, you might know that this also strengthens your aura. For those just wanting to relax, don’t worry about that. Next imagine that light expanding with each exhale and contracting with each inhale. You can reverse it too, it’s all up to you. If it’s hard to imagine that, then keep practicing, as you’ll get better at visualization, responding better to other meditations. Research says that to benefit from meditation, (benefits including, reduced anxiety, regulating blood pressure, lowering heart rate etc.), one needs only do this deep breathing three times per week for 10 minutes. Surely you are worth ten minutes. It is ideal to be sitting or lying down comfortably with eyes closed while doing this. However the deep breathing can be done anywhere. Do not do any visualization/meditation while driving. However; the breathing can help reduce road rage and get you through aggravating meetings at work. Perhaps you can add the ten minutes to your lunch break. Close your office door, hide in the bathroom or go out to your car. Whatever it takes. You owe it to yourself. So the tips for the day and every day is BREATHE! And KEEP IT SIMPLE!