Editor's Note: This post is authored by Maggie Donnelly. Maggie is a Barre instructor, a middle school social studies teacher, a stage actor, and an all-around knucklehead. She has been a fitness professional and an enthusiast for all things mind/body for going on seven years and is terribly passionate about the "big ideas" of wellness and day-to-day health. Catch her at O2 Fitness Clubs in Raleigh and Chapel Hill or exploring deep questions with tweens at Durham School of the Arts.
It’s a lifestyle blog jungle out there, folks, but here is what we know for sure: breathing – specifically mindful, intentional breathing – is really rather miraculous when it comes to regulating stress and managing emotional states. A veritable host of studies by medical professionals from both hemispheres point to the barrage of benefits resulting from breath and meditation, but where do we start? How do we start? What if I’m not a yoga enthusiast? What if my version of meditation is curling up in the fetal position and trying not to think or World of Warcraft or eating a whole can of Pringles?
Fear not, friends and neighbors, we can start with something simple – something I call “the story of the breath.”
Every story has a beginning, middle and end. In the story of your breath, the inhale is the beginning, the exhale is the middle, and “the pause” – the moment before your next inhale – is the end. Try this: look away from your computer screen for a moment, close your eyes, and just notice your breath. Find the inhale, the exhale, and the pause a few times. Ready? 3..2..1..go!
Congratulations! You have successfully meditated. You totally nailed it!
This is how we start. We start by finding the parts of the breath and just taking a moment to focus on those. Nobody – and I mean nobody – starts by clearing his mind entirely! That’s about as advanced as it gets. Start simple. Start with the story.
What’s next, you ask? Tune in next time for marrying the story to the body! But for now, whether you’re in a class, training for a 5k or just waiting to take the chicken out of the oven, close your eyes and bring a little awareness to your breath.