In through your nose and out through your mouth. Breathing always seemed like such a simple concept used for the sole purpose of keeping us alive. However, after attending “What is Guided Meditation” on Wellness Wednesday at Elevate Wellness Studio, I learned that taking the time to breathe delivers a long list of benefits.
During the studio’s Wellness Wednesdays, guests have the opportunity to learn about topics that are presented by a Brown Rogers physical or occupational therapist. I attended the lecture on guided meditation by Brittany McMillon and Angelle Brown and discovered the strength of the mind as well as what proper breathing can truly accomplish. McMillon and Brown explained that the first element of meditation is how to clear your mind. Our minds are constantly thinking about our mental to-do lists or worrying about mistakes we have made in the past. I never realized how fast my mind was always running until this was brought to my attention. The class was told to think about the present and to center our minds around what was happening in that very moment. Clearing my mind of all distractions, past and future, put me in an extreme state of relaxation before the meditation even started.
The next concept we learned was how to breathe. Even though breathing might seem like something that doesn’t need to be taught, I learned that your current state of mind determines the source and effectiveness of your breathing. For example, when you’re stressed you tend to breathe from the top of your chest and your neck. The breaths aren’t deep and full so they feed into your stressful mindset. When you breathe from deep within your stomach, it immediately begins to slow your heart rate and bring you back to a state of relaxation.
Now that the bases were covered, McMillon got us ready to begin the guided meditation. We were told to lie down on our backs, place the cylindrical pillow on our mats under our knees, and close our eyes. Once the soothing music and sound effects began, I couldn’t help but let a small smile stretch across my face. It was so incredibly relaxing already, and McMillon hadn’t even started the meditation. After about 30 seconds of the music playing, McMillon began to instruct our breathing. A huge part of meditation is centered around focusing. You focus on your breath, you focus on the present, and in this particular meditation, you focus on your body. McMillon told us that when she said the name of a body part, she wanted us to imagine that we were breathing out of it. This might sound strange, but once we got started, it relaxed me more than I have ever been before. As she listed each body part and I imagined myself breathing from it, that specific part felt weightless. By the end of the meditation I felt as if my body was floating. My mind had been cleared, my breathing was deep and slow, and my body felt like nothing.
The purpose of guided meditation is to tap into the inner peace and space that aligns with the present moment. “It becomes difficult for us to find this peace when our minds are scattered and cluttered with thoughts of the past, the future, worries, judgements and doubts,” says McMillon. To achieve the peace that exists in every moment, you must detach yourself from all thought and bring your awareness to the stillness of your breath.