4 Breathing Techniques for Calm

Black Mom's Guide to Calm

Breathing is one of my favorite ways to find calm when I feel overwhelmed, anxious or frustrated. And best of all, you can do this whenever you need to, no matter where you are, and you can practice multiple times a day. In this post, I’m sharing five breathing techniques you can use to tap into your inner peace. But before I do, here are a few tips:

 

  • If possible, get somewhere that’s quiet and distraction-free.
  • These can be done with your eyes opened or closed (but obviously, if your eyes are going to be closed, don’t drive or operate heavy machinery or anything like that). Sit up with your spine straight.
  • You can also listen to some music to help you focus better. Search for meditation music or relaxation music on YouTube, Google Play, etc.
  • You can practice the techniques until you feel more relaxed.
  • Be gentle with yourself and remember, it’s a practice.

1. Deep/belly breathing. (This is actually the way you’re supposed to breathe, so it’s good to practice regularly).

  • Sit tall with a straight spine and relax your shoulders.
  • Inhale fully and deeply through your nose allowing your belly to fill with air like a balloon.
  • Exhale completely through your nose, allowing your belly button to go towards your spine.
  • Repeat 5 to 10 times or until you feel calmer.

2. Equal Breathing

  • Use the same breathing technique as above.
  • Count to 4 as you inhale, then count to 4 as you exhale.
  • Repeat a few times or until you feel more relaxed.

3. 4-7-8 breathing (This is a great technique to use if you have trouble falling asleep).

  • Inhale fully and deeply (fill your belly with air) through your nose as you count to 4.
  • Hold the breath for a count of 7.
  • Exhale fully and deeply (allowing your navel to go towards your spine) as you count to 8.
  • Repeat 5 to 10 times or until you’re more peaceful (or asleep).

4. Relaxation Response.

  • As you sit, start your from the top of your head and scan your body, releasing any tension you might be holding on to.
  • Inhale through your nose, focusing on your breath.
  • Exhale and say a word to yourself like breathe, relax, calm or peace.
  • Continue for 2 minutes or until you feel calmer.

 

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#MeditateInMay Meditation Experience

 

Black Mom's Guide to Calm

May is National Meditation Month! As I’ve mentioned many times, having a meditation practice is one of the top ways I’m able to find my calm on a daily basis, which is why I’ve creating this challenge.

Every day, I’ll share a quick and simple meditative technique that will allow you to find your inner peace, calm, and harmony. To keep with the day’s practice, be sure to follow Black Mom’s Guide to Calm on Instagram and Facebook . Click here to download the calendar.

Meditation/breathing tips:

  • Do the exercises in a quiet, distraction-free space, if possible. Sit in a comfortable position with a straight spine.
  • When inhaling, breathe through your nose, filling your belly with air like a balloon. When exhaling, breathe through your nose or mouth, bringing your belly button back towards your spine.
  • To help you focus on meditating instead of the amount of time that’s passing, use a timer or an app like Calm.
  • If you find your mind wandering, bring your awareness back to your breath/the present moment.

Equal Breathing

  • Inhale deeply through your nose, allowing your belly to expand while counting to 5.
  • Exhale fully through your nose while counting to 5, allowing your navel to go back towards your spine.
  • To help keep each breath equal, count in your head. And if/when your mind wanders, bring your focus back to your breath/counting.
  • Repeat for 3 to 5 minutes.

 Alternate nostril breathing can:

  • Give you an energy boost.
  • Increase your focus and concentration.
  • Bring you calm and help you relax.

Here’s how to do it:

1. Make a gentle fist with your right hand. Extend your thumb and last two fingers, leaving space for your nose.

2. With your thumb, close off your right nostril, and exhale through your left. 3. Fully and deeply Inhale through your left nostril.

4. Close your left nostril with the last two fingers, and exhale fully through the right nostril.

5. Inhale through your right nostril. Close it off then exhale through the left.

6. Repeat steps 2-4 for one minute.

Here’s how to do a walking meditation

Visualization Meditation

  1. Find a quite, distraction-free space (if possible), and sit comfortably with a straight spine.
  2. Inhale fully and deeply, filling your belly with air. Exhale fully, allowing your belly button to go towards your spine.
  3. Continue breathing deeply, and imagine yourself in a beautiful location, like a beach, mountains, or garden. See yourself as calm and relaxed with everything as you want it.
  4. Focus on what you can see, hear, feel, touch (e.g., hear the waves of the ocean, feel the sun on your skin, etc.).
  5. Keep visualizing for a few minutes and/or until you feel more calm.
  6. When you’re ready, gently bring your awareness back to yourself and the present moment, then open your eyes.

Mindfulness Meditation:

Mindfulness meditation encourages you to observe your wandering thoughts as they drift through your mind. The intent is to not get involved with the thoughts nor judge them but to simply be aware of them, and let them go on by without giving them your energy or attention. As you meditate today and thoughts come, be aware of them, then let them go.

If you find it challenging to “just let them go,” imagine the thoughts on a screen scrolling by or put them in a bubble and let them float away. Then, focus your attention back on your breath.

Concentration Meditation

With concentration meditation, you focus on a single point, like a single word or mantra, a non-moving object (like a candle or figurine), or your inhalations and exhalations, which is what I do primarily. For example, I will inhale and count to four, then exhale and count to four.

Of course, the idea is to continue concentrating the entire time, but you still might find that your mind wanders. When this happens (and it will, no matter how “seasoned” you are as a meditator), gently bring your awareness back to the chosen object of attention, and let the thoughts go.

Here are the links for the guided meditations (on the 15th, 19th, and 30th):

Guided Meditation to Get Grounded

Guided Meditation for Self-love and Self-worth

Everything is Working Out! Guided Meditation

 

This post will be updated frequently, so be sure to check back for more tips and resources!