Start Your Meditation Practice with these Easy Mindful Breathing Tips

By Nelri Smit | Posted: July 03, 2019

“The man who moves mountains begins by carrying away small stones.” - Confucius

You’re already convinced of the benefits of meditation. 

You’ve been motivated before to begin a practice--but before you know it, a month has passed, and you haven’t given meditation the time you intended to. Even when you’re able to sit down, after a few minutes it’s too difficult, and you get discouraged, start to feel the opposite of inner peace, and pretty soon your meditation aspirations go out the window. 


So many people have been there. I’ve been there, too! But luckily, I stumbled onto a pretty simple solution that I’m really excited to share. You can see this advice as a powerful shortcut to begin laying a foundation and get more accustomed to regular meditation practice.

In essence, we need to communicate to the body that we are taking charge of the breath.


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Take Ten in the Morning

Instead of trying to move a mountain with your meditation, start by carrying those small stones in the form of just ten breaths. Ten mindful breaths in the morning is a great way to start communicating with your body and mind that you’re in charge. 

As soon as you wake up, sit up tall by your bedside, with your shoulders down and relaxed and your feet firmly on the ground. Take a deep breath in through your nostrils. As you exhale, think: I’m happy and grateful to be alive and awake. Take a second deep breath and repeat this thought during the exhale. 

By the third deep inhale, focus some attention on how the breath is filling your torso and how it feels; breathe out. Try making the fourth breath even deeper than the first one; exhale. 

You only have to take ten, but if it feels good, go for more!

After you’re satisfied that the breathing and gratitude you just gifted your body is sufficient, lift the corners of your mouth slightly and get up to go about your day.

Repeat this every morning, and most importantly, make it your own. Bring in more gratitude statements, explore how the breath feels different on different days, and discover how you’ll be able to go a bit longer on other days.

Congratulations! If you can repeat this long enough, your body and mind will become conditioned to explore a more solid meditation practice.

Breathe Through Your Daily Commute

The daily commute back and forth to wherever you need to be can be a stressful part of your day. A great way to counteract that stress is mindful breathing. Apart from this added bonus, bringing breath to this time means you’ll further your meditation foundation!

If you’re the one driving the car, simply breathe deeper and slower with relaxed shoulders for however long you can. If you’re taking public transport, great! You can focus a bit more on how the breath feels, how long you can extend it, and linking valuable thoughts and affirmations along with each inhalation and exhalation.

A good rule of thumb is to link thoughts you want to absorb with the inhalation and thoughts you want to put out there with exhalation. The inhalation should be through your nostrils and the exhalation through either the mouth (for great release and cooling) or through nostrils (for a gentler exhale). I encourage you to play with this and make it your own personal and private process!

After repeating this for long enough, you should see the bringing of breath to come more naturally to your body and once it’s a habit, your meditation practice should give you a little less trouble to get into.

During Your Tea and/or Lunch Break

Even if you have one minute to spare, squeeze in a few deep and mindful breaths during your tea or lunch break. Breathing deeply during a tea or lunch break will have the added benefits of aiding your digestion. 

Deep breathing needs to become a subconscious go-to action any time you have a moment to breathe. The more you do it, the more your body and mind will become accustomed to it.

Breathe Whenever you Need A Boost

Mindful breathing is a great tool for any time you need to take charge of your emotions and mental state. Your body can also benefit greatly in many ways from the influx of fresh oxygen.

Whenever you find yourself stressed, anxious or tense during your day, inhale deeply and with the exhale, relax your shoulders down. You’ll be surprised how much we hold in our shoulders when we get drawn into everyday stresses!

The key to building this meditation foundation is to make it your own and make it fit into your personal lifestyle. Once you feel how good a breathing power break can make you feel, you can try a more dedicated practice. Starting with a group in a class setting, like in the Happiness Program, can really kickstart your meditation practice! Weave it into your daily activities and soon, your body and mind will know the signal and follow through more willingly and with less resistance.

My wish is that you’ll reach a sweet spot very soon and be ready to experience a deeper meditation practice. 

Nelri is a curious creature with a love for knowledge, learning and improving. Celebrates mistakes as a step forward, writing from sunny South Africa! She can be followed on Twitter

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