A simple breathing exercise and meditation to ease stress and anxiety

Shortly after confronting my anxiety in 2015, I introduced meditation into my life as a new habit. Because of the significant benefits of meditation and its ability to bring newfound peace into my life and quiet my hyper-sensitive mind, I decided to write my own simple meditation to share with the readers of this blog, so that you can share in the benefits as well. I hope you enjoy it.

How to begin meditation

  1. Schedule a time in the day optimal for a calm mind. Set yourself up for success, not failure. And while there are more than two times during the day to practice meditation, when you’re beginning, I find the following moments best to avoid unnecessary frustrations and external distractions:
    1. In the morning, before anyone is awake
    2. At night when everyone has gone to bed
  2. Carve out a quiet space for your meditation practice
    1. If you have a quiet room in your house, go for it
    2. Consider outside, too. My front porch is one of the most peaceful places I meditate. My back patio as well
  3. Begin the meditation
    1. For obvious reasons, the first few times you do the simple meditation transcribed below, keep your eyes open while you read from the screen
    2. After you become accustomed to the meditation and the repetition a few days from now, begin anew with closed eyes

Helpful tips for self-guided meditation

When thoughts enter

Don’t fret if thoughts enter when you first start your meditation practice. Thoughts will enter. They will enter on day one, they will attempt intrusion a month from now—even a year later. Keep at it. There’s a saying in buddhism known as monkey mind (kapicitta). Said the Buddha, “Just as a monkey swinging through the trees grabs one branch and lets it go only to seize another, so too, that which is called thought, mind or consciousness arises and disappears continually both day and night.”

Signaling the beginning and end of the meditation

A timer isn’t necessary, but if you use one, do not use a startling sound that will negatively effect the peace you just gained while practicing your breathing. A chime or gentle bell, if available, is perfect.

The mobile app version of Stop, Breathe & Think has a self-meditation timer which is perfect. The web version of Stop, Breathe & Think has a self-meditation timer, too, but you will need to sign up for an account first, which takes less than a minute:

  1. Visit Stop, Breathe & Think on the web
  2. Scroll down until you see “Web”
  3. Select “List of Meditations,” then “Self-Meditation Timer”
  4. OK! Sign me up/in

A Simple Meditation to Relieve Stress and Anxiety

I Breathe In Calm

In a quiet room, sit upright
In a comfortable position,
Or, lay on your backside in bed.
Set a timer on your phone for four minutes,
And place the phone by your side,
Next to you, or on your nightstand.

With your eyes closed,
Rest your hands by your sides.
Take a deep breath in through your nose.
Your stomach should expand.
Hold it for two seconds…
Breathe out through your nose
To a count of 1-2-3.
Your stomach should deflate.

Again, breathe in through your nose.
Hold it for two seconds…
Breathe out through your nose, 1-2-3.

Breathe in while saying silently
To yourself, “I breathe in calm.”
Then breathe out while saying silently
To yourself, “I breathe out all my worries.”
“I breathe in calm.”
Hold…
“I breathe out all my worries.”
“I breathe in calm.”
Hold…
“I breathe out all my worries.”

If your thoughts try to interrupt you,
Don’t be angry at the intrusion;
Say gently to the thoughts that arise,
That you will come back to them
When you are done.
Then, return to your breath.

“I breathe in calm.”
Hold…
“I breathe out all my worries.”
“I breathe in calm.”
Hold…
“I breathe out all my worries.”

Continue this for four minutes,
Or, until the timer on your phone beeps.

Further reading

Meditation for Beginners

If you enjoyed this simple meditation and would like to read more helpful tips on how to get started in meditation, read “Meditation for Beginners: 20 Practice Tips for Understanding the Mind,” by Leo Babauta of Zen Habits. Writes Leo, “The most important habit I’ve formed in the last 10 years of forming habits is meditation. Hands down, bar none. Meditation has helped me to form all my other habits, it’s helped me to become more peaceful, more focused, less worried about discomfort, more appreciative and attentive to everything in my life.”

If you hate lists and people who always come off as calm and soft spoken, with the exception of Thich Nhat Hanh because that dude bleeds cool, well, look no further than Mark Manson who cuts through the bullshit from the jump. In “Meditation: Why You Should Do It,” Manson writes:

[Meditation is] hard to do. Really fucking hard. No seriously, take a second and close your eyes and try to think about nothing for 30 seconds. No seriously, try it.

Fighting the Voice in Your Head

In his interview “Fighting the Voice in Your Head,” Joshua Fields Millburn, of the Minimalists, sits down with author and on-air journalist for ABC News, Dan Harris, to discuss meditation, mindfulness, and Dan’s book 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works—A True Story.

Meditation for Real People

In “Meditation for Real People,” Courtney Carver of Be More With Less, explains, “You don’t have to be a tree-hugging, tea drinking, yogi to practice meditation.”

How has meditation changed your life? Start a conversation on Facebook or leave a comment below.

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Photo: André Hofmeister. “Calm.” Licensed under CC-BY-SA 2.0

2 Comments

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  1. Found your blog through Facebook. I’ve never meditated before until reading this. I have considered it for some time but have never known how to begin. Very peaceful. I like that it’s simple. I need simple in my life. Mom of two small kids 🙂

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