Try Your Hand at Breathing Meditation

meditation on breath
Image credits: Chelsea Gates via Unsplash

Are you finding yourself anxious at times? Do you suffer from panic attacks? Or, does your heart start racing in stressful environments? Meditation on breath might help.

Meditation on breath or mindful breathing is a basic but powerful practice to help you focus all your attention on breathing. Getting in tune with your natural breathing method is possible when you channel your energy to the natural rhythm of your breathing. That’s because breathing is the connection between energy and matter, as well as the mind and consciousness.

Controlling your breathing through meditation on breath can open your spirit to higher awareness. It centers your thoughts on each breath and can relieve stress and ward off negative emotions.

Exploring Mindful Breathing Techniques

In Sanskrit, prana means life and breath. Hence, meditation on breath or mindfulness breathing involves meditation practices that focus thought on inhaling and exhaling or the airway’s contractions and expansions. This mind-body-spirit connection is the core of our existence and a natural way to channel our thoughts, reduce stress and control our center.

Mindfulness breathing is used with yoga as the body, breath and emotions are interconnected. It’s also why meditation practices often include breathing to connect with our pure consciousness. Labored breathing, anxious thoughts, fear and agitation have devastating effects on our health. However, our breathing is controllable. Meaning, when you calm and control your breathing, you can calm and control your mind, lower your heart rate and blood pressure, and sleep more soundly. 

To start mindful breathing, find a place where you can relax without disruptions. Sitting is probably best. Focus your attention on your breathing. Accept and receive what comes in and don’t fight your thoughts or feelings.

Next, count each breath as you inhale and exhale. Then, let your thoughts come and go but continue to count. Because your mind is busy, your thoughts may drift. Quiet your mind and remain in that relaxed state focusing on your breathing.

Start for 10 minutes and then increase to 20 minutes or longer. Your mindfulness will increase and you’ll relax more deeply the more you practice. 

Types of Breathing Techniques

If you’ve ever heard of the military breathing technique (4-7-8) or the 7/11 method, then the person was likely talking about breathing meditation techniques. These can promote calming and even induce sleep. Here are a few examples.

4-7-8 Breathing

The 4-7-8 breathing technique was developed by Dr. Andrew Weil. It’s often used to help people fall asleep quickly or reduce their anxieties. Meditation breathing techniques like these are based on a yogic technique called Pranayama which helps to help control your breathing.

To bring the body in a state of relaxation, hold your breath for specific time frames. This technique gives your tissues and organs more oxygen and reduces the fight-or-flight mechanism. As you take in oxygen, you’re not replaying troubling thoughts. Your focus is completely on counting your breaths, not your elevated heart rate or nerves. 4-7-8 meditation breathing techniques are natural tranquilizers and the more you use them, the easier you’ll fall asleep.

To try this technique, simply breathe in for 4-seconds, hold that same breath for 7-seconds, and then breath out for 8-seconds. Initially, you may need to do it a few times. However, the body remembers and eventually, you may only need to do it one time before you fall asleep. 

7/11 Breathing Technique

Often called 7-11 breathing, this breathwork meditation technique can reduce stress and anxiety levels. Breathing techniques are a way to reprogram our thinking. With deep and controlled breathing, the body readily responds and works to bring about a more natural state. As emotional arousal and stimuli are reduced, you can fall asleep faster or reduce stress at work or school.

To do the 7/11 breathwork meditation method, breathe in slowly for a count of 7-seconds with diaphragmatic breathing. Meaning you’ll push out with your stomach instead of breathing higher up in your lungs. Then breathe out for a count of 11-seconds.

The out-breaths are longer and can lower your heart rate and blood pressure. You can reduce the number of seconds but breathe out longer than you breathe in.

Breathing to Help Stop Insomnia

If you suffer from insomnia, there are few guided breath meditation techniques that can help you fall asleep fast.

To fall asleep in 10 seconds actually takes about 120 seconds for your body to unwind. However, you’ll drift off in the last 10-seconds. This guided breathing meditation technique is also used by the military to help soldiers fall asleep in under 2-minutes. Some can even fall asleep while sitting up! 

Simply relax your facial muscles and mouth. Then release the tension in your shoulders, arms, legs and feet. Let your limbs go slack at your side and picture a relaxing scene in your mind. If thoughts keep popping up, repeat to yourself “No new thoughts” or “don’t think” over and over and you’ll fall asleep. 

FAQs

What is the Role of Breath in Meditation?

Meditation is a way to naturally slow down your breathing. It can help to calm an anxious heart, lower your blood pressure and even help promote better sleep patterns. Meditation lets you channel your breathing and thoughts into a natural rhythm as you tap into your matter and energy and matter connections that work with the mind and consciousness.

Use meditation to tap into a higher awareness of your spirit, to stop anxious thoughts and block negative emotions like stress.

How Do You Do Mindful Breathing in Meditation?

First, find an area where you can rest and one that has minimal interruptions. Sit in a comfortable position and don’t fight your thoughts. Then, count each inhalation and exhalation. Continue to count even when thoughts pop up. Try this for 10-minutes and build up to 20-minutes or more. The more you practice the easier it becomes. 

What is the 4-7-8 Breathing Technique?

Developed by Dr. Andrew Weil and popular with the military, 4-7-8 breathing is a way to quickly fall off to sleep by increasing your oxygen. It’s a popular yogic technique called Pranayama to help control your breathing by drawing it in for 4-seconds, holding it for 7-seconds and then releasing it for 8-seconds. The more you do this before sleep, the easier it is to eventually fall asleep with this natural tranquilizer!

What is the 7/11 Breathing Technique?

7-11 breathing is a meditative breathwork technique that lowers anxiety and stress. By using deep and controlled breathing, you can relax the body and reduce an elevated heart rate or high blood pressure. Simply breathe in slowly for 7-seconds with diaphragmatic breathing (from your belly). Then breathe out for 11-seconds. The out breaths can be shorter but ensure they’re longer. That way you increase your oxygen intake and relax.

How Can I Fall Asleep in 10 Seconds?

Can’t sleep at night? Need to fall asleep right away? 10-second breathing initially takes about 2-minutes to achieve. However, once your body becomes used to it, you’ll fall asleep in no time. Start by relaxing all your facial muscles, then your upper body and lower body while you picture a calming scene. If thoughts come into your mind just say to yourself “No thinking” or “don’t think” to block them out. You’ll eventually fall asleep.