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Mindful Breathing

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Mindful Breathing

meditation image This audio is a quick three minute stress management technique that coaches you through mindful breathing. Mindfulness is a state of mind in which you focus completely on your most immediate experience. In this exercise, the focus is on the full experience of your breathing.

When doing any mindful exercise, it is important to very gently bring your focus back to your experience if distracting thoughts occur. Do not try to get rid of the thoughts because that interferes with mindfulness. Instead, just gently refocus back to the exercise.

Once you have learned this technique, you can use it to help with sleep when you are having trouble quieting your mind. Focus on the mindful breathing. Whenever any thoughts occur, gently bring your focus back to your breath. You may have to do this a number of times before your mind quiets. Once you are fully focused on your each breath, you are more likely to drift naturally off to sleep.

"When you are in a state of mindfulness you are actually more aware and able to engage in tasks..."

Why are meditative relaxation and mindfulness important?


When I ask clients what they do for daily relaxation I usually get responses such as:

"I relax by watching TV every night."

"I have a glass of wine."

"I read a book."

"I go out with friends."

"I go to the gym and work out."

"I find gardening relaxing."

"I like to fish."

Although each of these activities may be perceived as relaxing and may even have an element of mindfulness, they don't provide the brain and body with the deep meditative relaxation we require. In fact, most of these activities are stimulating to the brain or the body rather than quieting.

What is Deep Meditative Relaxation?

When I refer to deep meditative relaxation, I mean the type that allows our brain to enter an "alpha" state for a period of time. An "alpha" state refers to our brain waves as measured by an EEG. When (non-invasive) electrodes are attached to our heads to measure our brain waves, we find several different types occur depending upon our degree of wakefulness.

The normal state of wakefulness in which we are fully aware and active is shown as "beta" waves. Beta waves on the EEG are very active, not very uniform, and not deep are slow. This makes sense as it is showing that the brain is active which includes thinking as well as physical activity which the brain must direct. So, most of the statements above can be described by a "beta wave state."
lotus flower
When we fall asleep our brain slows down, and the brain waves become deeper, slower, and more rhythmic as we progress through the deeper stages of sleep including theta and delta brain waves. However, when we cycle back into dream sleep or "REM" sleep then our brain approaches the wakeful state of the beta waves because our brain is active during dream sleep.

For most people who don't practice deep meditative relaxation, these are the primary brain waves that they experience. However, with deep relaxation, meditation, hypnosis, and mindfulness people experience the alpha brain wave state as well as the theta brain wave state (Chiesa, 2009; Lagopoulos et al, 2009) which have been shown to have significant health benefits. Read article...

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Dr. Monica Frank



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