We often think of peace as being part of our external experience. A peaceful garden, a peaceful home, going to a spa or retreat where everything is slow paced and soft music fills the background. While peaceful environments are wonderful, let’s face it, we don’t all get to experience them on a regular basis. Relying on external environments to create our internal emotional state is a horrible trap. It places our daily experience in the hands of others. It makes us vulnerable to the environment rather than empowered, knowing that we have control of our own internal state.
Creating your own inner peace can begin with taking a few attentive breaths in and out as you intentionally choose how you want to feel. The wonderful thing about this practice is that your breath and intention begin to shift your nervous system into a more regulated and grounded state which helps you feel more peaceful. Why is this so powerful? Because you take your breath and your mind with you wherever you go.
To dive a bit deeper: When you learn how to control and manipulate your breath, you have this magical tool that acts as an internal dial within your own physiology. So, do you want to turn it up and increase your feelings of excitement, energy, and, perhaps, a bit of eustress (that’s good stress), or do you wish to relax, chill, and create a deep feeling of peace? You hold the key to your own inner state.
Practice this breathing pattern and see (or feel) it for yourself.
Practice: Belly Breath
1. Sit up or stand tall. Eyes can be open, gazing softly on an object, or closed.
2. Place your hands on your abdomen, just below your navel.
3. Breathe in through your nose, and fill the center of your body with air as if you were filling a balloon. Make your belly button move outward away from your spine.
4. Exhale through your nose, and feel your navel pull back in toward your spine as if you were letting the air out of a balloon.
5. Have students count on their own and repeat this breath 10 more times.
6. To end this practice, have students breathe in and out 2 times together.
7. Have students take a moment to notice how they feel or any sensations that arise before they open their eyes.
While belly breath tends to relax and calm the nervous system, you may desire to be more alert, awake and energized. Experiment with another type of breathing pattern called Bunny Breath.