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Carl Benedict offers online counseling on his web site Serenity Online Therapy.
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Meditative Breathing: More Than You Think

Meditative Breathing is a simple yet deceptively powerful technique that can be used for relaxation. When practiced on a daily basis, it will also change your relationship with your thoughts. This can aid in emotional regulation by helping you "see" the true nature of your thinking mind, which is: Your mind has a mind of its own and not all your thoughts are helpful or even true.  In addition, as you meditate and become distracted by thoughts, you will practice letting go of them, which will also help with emotional regulation. After all, it is frequently the inability to let go of certain patterns of thinking that fuels anxiety, depression, and anger.

How to Practice Meditative Breathing

  1. Assume a comfortable sitting posture.
  2. Close your eyes, keep your spine straight, and let your shoulders drop a bit. 
  3. Bring your attention to your belly, noticing it rise gently with each in-breath and fall with each out-breath. The rise and fall of your abdomen as you breathe will be the focus of this meditation.
  4. Keep the focus on your breathing - the rise and fall of the belly - “being with” each in-breath for its full duration and with each out-breath for its full duration, as if riding the waves of your own breathing.
  5. Every time you notice your attention has wandered, notice where your attention has gone, then gently bring it back to the rise and fall of the belly as you breathe.
  6. If your mind wanders a hundred times, then your “job” is simply to bring it back, non-judgmentally, a hundred times. By non-judgmentally I mean you do not judge the fact that your mind has wandered - because that's what minds do! You simply bring your attention back to the rise and fall of your belly without judgment.

That's it! That's Meditative Breathing. Practice it for 15 minutes, once or twice a day, and see the benefits accrue over time. You can not do Meditative Breathing wrong if you do Meditative breathing supports good mental health. Photo by Carl Benedict.it. Thoughts of "I am doing this wrong" or "This is not working" are simply more distracting thoughts to let go of as you meditate.

To learn more about Meditative Breathing, refer to the book Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn, an excellent resource on mindfulness and meditation.

Therapists frequently say to clients, "You have to let go of it." But what does that mean? How do you  let go of something? The daily practice of Meditative Breathing teaches you how to let go. In the course of each meditation, you will be distracted by many thoughts, some of which are quite compelling. In fact, some will scream at you, "Stop meditating and pay attention to me - I'm really, really important!" Each time you resist getting sucked into a thought, you are practicing letting go.

While meditating, you practice letting go of all thoughts, one by one, as they arise. In short, you are exercising the "muscles" that allow you to let go. In the real world, however, some thoughts are helpful while others are not. Having the ability to let go of unhelpful thoughts, or what I call "stinking thinking," is an important aspect of emotional regulation and good mental health. For related topics, see mindfulness, stress management, spam of the mind, and taming the mind.

If you would like help in learning emotional regulation through mindfulness and meditation, click on the picture below to see if online therapy might be right for you.


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Carl Benedict is a member of the International Society for Mental Health Online, which has led the way in establishing online counseling standards.

Copyright 2005-2014 Serenity Online Therapy
Text and photos by Carl Benedict except where noted

"Our very life depends on everything recurring 'til we answer from within."  Robert Frost
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