Last Updated on December 14, 2023 by Boko Digital
‘Tis the season to be jolly’ or is it more like ‘Tis the season for stress and burnout’?
The holidays and the end of the year can be an exciting and busy time, but they can also bring on additional stress with hectic schedules, social and family pressures, financial strain and for some loneliness and isolation.
It’s very easy to get overwhelmed and miss out on the most important part — being present with family and friends and enjoying some time off.
As a qualified meditation and mindfulness teacher I am going to share with you a simple breath meditation that will have you feeling less stressed and more present in minutes.
Now, it’s important to understand that while everybody experiences stress, reactions can be different depending on the individual’s state of their nervous system. For example, if someone is yelling at the traffic whilst in a traffic jam, it’s not that that person’s life is more stressful than anyone else’s in the same traffic jam. It is the state of the individual’s nervous system and their lack of tools to get themselves out of “fight and flight’ mode, which is not fun for anyone, but is also detrimental to their health.
Meditation and breath techniques are great tools to reduce stress and regulate your nervous system. Which means less ‘stress head’ and more ‘present in the moment’ with your loved ones.
The breath meditation below is for everyone and anyone, it is easy and only takes a few minutes.
As the name suggests the technique involves you extending your exhale. Just by increasing the ratio of your outward breath, compared to your inward breath you are stimulating the relaxation response (which is opposite to the stress response!).
This is because every inward breath is neurologically linked to excitation, and every outward breath is neurologically linked to relaxation. So, when you extend your exhalation, you are telling your body you are safe, that everything is okay.
The ratio for the Extended Breath Meditation is 2:4, so that is breathing in for a count of 2 and exhaling out for a count of 4. However, as your body starts to settle down, you may be able to extend the out breath for a count of 6.
This breath meditation can be done anytime of the day and is great to use when you are starting to feel stress building up.
The extended breath meditation can be done, with eyes open or closed, seated or standing, for example if you’re waiting in line, or at Christmas lunch. But for best results the extended breath meditation is done seated with eyes closed, as per the instructions below.
Part 1. Settling In
- Sit in a comfortable position and gently close your eyes.
- Begin by simply observing your natural breath. Notice your inhalation and exhalation without changing anything.
- Observe your body and make any necessary adjustments.
Part 2. Extended Breath Method
- Start by breathing in through the nostrils for a count of two (1, 2). And then exhale through the nostrils for a count of four (1,2,3,4). Continue with this ratio for about a minute.
- Now, you may like to try to extend the outward breath even further. Breathe in for a count of 2 and out for a count of 6. If this is comfortable, continue with this ratio, or if you are straining, come back to the 2:4 ratio.
- Continue to breathe in deeply and out fully.
- Do this for 3 – 5 minutes.
Part 3. Completing
- Finish by coming back to your natural breath, again simply observing it. You may notice the breath is slower and you feel a bit calmer.
- Gently open your eyes.
I hope you enjoyed this simple yet powerful breath meditation to reduce stress and have you feeling calmer and more present for the holiday season.
Attention Greencare patients: Soelae Riley will be offering free Greencare #meditationmondays to patients every Monday 6PM AEST via Zoom, with the first class in the new year taking place on Monday 2nd January 2023. A link will be sent to you via email and SMS. We look forward to seeing you there and helping you achieve better overall health, naturally!