The ocean has a calming effect on me. Listening to the waves as they crash on the beach and recede back into the water relaxes my mind and brings a feeling of wellbeing. I imagine the ocean as a breath, inhaling and coming onto the beach, then exhaling and receding back into the deep only to start again. We can use our breath to create this calm of watching the ocean. The secret? Just making your breath out longer than your in breath helps calm the body down.
For this experience, we will purposely extend the length of our out breath. First we will figure out our base-breathing pattern. Empty your lungs and take an in breath counting to yourself how long it takes for you to take a breath into the body. Slowly count to yourself 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 —. What is the largest number you take before you start to exhale? Do this a couple of times and pick the number that comes out the most. Don’t change your normal breathing pattern by trying to take in a bigger breath. It really doesn’t matter how long your in breath is.
In our meditation below, we will add a ‘ two count’ to our outbreath. For example, if your in breath was a count of five, make your outbreath a count of seven. Making the out breath longer than the in breath in this way lets the body know it is time to calm down. You can try this exercise during our meditation or even before going to bed.
Sit in a comfortable position. You can sit cross-legged, on on your calves in hero pose, or in a chair – it really doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you can sit comfortably for five minutes. Sit upright. If you are using a chair, try keeping the back straight and away from the chair. Try sitting more toward the front of your seat. Adjust yourself now so you can remain seated in a comfortable position without moving. Sit for a few moments. Let the body relax. If you notice any holding of tension in your back or legs try to let it go. If you feel a part of your body tense, imagine your breath coming and going through that part of the body. For example if your thighs are tense, imagine as you breath in that your breath is flowing in and out of your thighs. Do this visualization for a few moments.
Now, set your timer for five minutes. Close your eyes. In your mind watch the breath as it comes in and goes back out to the world. If you can, breath through your nose both on the in breath and the out breath. Begin counting to yourself as before – in our example breathing in for a count of five, and out for a count of seven. Keep breathing this way for the full five minutes. If the count ever becomes too uncomfortable, shorten your count of the breath. If it seems too easy, extend your count. After your session notice the feeling of your body as well as your mind. You can repeat again or extend for longer periods of time. Congratulations! You have just done your first meditation practice!