Meditation and deep belly breathing

23 October 2017 by
First published: 29 January 2017

Meditation and deep belly breathing

In this, our fifth week of guided meditation with Ashley Hunt, we look at meditation and deep belly breathing.

Breath is one of the most important aspects of meditation. Paying attention to your breathing is a simple way to bring attention to the present moment. While meditating, you can use your breath as your anchor to the here and now. But, while it may seem simple, what if I told you that you have been breathing wrong this whole time?

Today we are going to relearn how to breathe.

Over time, the stresses of daily life cause you to change your breathing patterns. You begin to breath shallowly, into your chest, when really you should be breathing deeply into your belly. We touched on this in the first week, but now we are going to explore it a little deeper.

Deep belly breathing, or diaphragmatic breathing, stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, and reduces the sympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system is what will send you into ‘fight or flight’ mode. The balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems regulate how the body deals with stress.

Although I call it deep belly breathing, what you are really doing when you breath deep into your stomach is maximising the use of your diaphragm. When you use your diaphragm properly, you are able to use your lungs to their full capacity and therefore breathe as deeply as possible.

Breathing deeply maximises the amount of oxygen that is entering your bloodstream. Benefits of deep belly breathing include mental clarity, increased focus and alertness, relaxation and calmness.

Now you’re going to learn how to add this to your meditation practice. I recommend you lie on your back for this one, as this will be the easiest way to measure your breathing.

You might also like our article on how to stop a burnout in its track or creating a ritual.