Where do you work? Currently my ‘office’ is in the middle of a bustling coffee shop in Vancouver. There’s loud music playing, lots of conversation and I can hear the sounds of the espresso machine and cups clashing in the background. Maybe you’re in an office or, if you’re lucky, you’re working from a hammock on a beach.
No matter where your location or what you are doing, you have the opportunity to experience a sense of peace or mindfulness right now by using a simple technique called abdominal breathing. Being mindful is about being aware of your experience from moment to moment.
When we’re caught up in our daily activities, or feeling anxious or stressed, our breathing is shallow – and it’s concentrated in the upper part of the chest. This causes a negative effect on the body by sending a distress signal to the autonomic nervous system, which is associated with the fight or flight response.
When we take a few moments to be mindful by paying attention to our breath, we have the ability to cultivate a deep and even flow of breath, which sends a signal to the body to relax.
Sit up tall with a straight spine, bring your awareness to your belly and allow it to soften and relax. Begin with a slow, deep inhalation for a count of three, filling your belly, then ribcage, then upper chest with oxygen. Pause for second, then exhale from your upper chest, rib cage then belly, drawing your belly in towards your spine at the end. Pause again, then repeat.
A few cycles of this can instantly change your mood, increase your focus and elevate your energy level. Now get back to work!