R&R Mindfulness Week 1: Find Your Inspiration & Breathe It

“Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts. Whenever your mind becomes scattered, use your breath as the means to take hold of your mind again.” ― Thich Nhat Hanh

What does being mindful mean? It simply means slowing down just enough that you are present, aware, truly experiencing everything you are doing. In our technology driven, hyper-scheduled lives, we tend towards speeding through our daily tasks and experiences without checking in with our internal reactions. This can lead to losing our original intent, and while going through the motions, we can even become unaware of the effects on our bodies and minds.

With the beginning of a new year, we are used to setting new goals and resolutions. Throughout this challenge, instead of focusing on changing ourselves to fit our new ideas, we will begin adding in new habits that will act to serve your goals. I will give you tools to check in, slow down, and allow you to process events and changes in your daily life and through this R&R challenge mentally, emotionally, and physically. By slowing down and remaining mindful, we serve not only ourselves, but the people around us as well.

Let’s start simply:

1 - Find an object or image that brings you joy and inspiration. It could be from a particular event in your life, or even given to you by someone in your life. Whatever this object is, when you look at it and hold it, it should bring you joy and a sense of peacefulness. Carry this object with you, or put it in a place in your home or work place where you can easily look at it. Every so often during your day (especially in moments of stress and frustration), take it out and look at it. Give yourself 2-4 minutes to experience the peacefulness it provides. Remove yourself, for just these few minutes, from task(s) at hand and bask in the joy, in the peacefulness.

(Optional Bonus) - Create a space in your home where you can retreat to and take in joy. This could be a room, a corner of a shared space, a particular seat at the kitchen table, or even a display on the wall. Tidy it up and decorate it with things that give you a sense of content peacefulness. This can become your retreat for breath, meditation, and general mindful moments.

R&R Breathe.png

2 - A few times every day (suggested: morning, afternoon, & evening), pause and attend to your breath. Set a timer on your phone for 3-5 minutes, find a comfortable seat, and with your eyes open or closed, experience your breath. Feel each inhale fill your belly, lungs, and chest. Feel each exhale slowly empty from but soften your body….. Notice the length of each inhale compared to each exhale….. Begin to inhale to a count of 4, pause for a moment, exhale to a count of 4, pause for a moment, and repeat….. Allow each breath to be complete.

Some people find it hard to concentrate on one breath at a time for 5 minutes. And for those that fall into this category, there are tools to help!! There are several great apps that can help guide you through breathing sessions. You may search “breathing” in the app store on your phone. These apps can help you with the use of timers, visuals, sounds, and can even count for you! My favorite happens to be the Apple Watch breathe app, but another wonderful app is “Breathe +” Turn your phone on “Do Not Disturb” and give yourself 5 minutes.