4 comments on “How to Get Over a Bad Mood by Cultivating Breath Awareness”

How to Get Over a Bad Mood by Cultivating Breath Awareness

Yoga is the dance of every cell with the music of every breath that creates inner serenity and harmony.”  – Debashish Mirdha, MD., neurosurgeon & philosopher 

So you’re in a mood. 

What do you do? 

What are your go-to ways to get over it? 

Whatever way you choose to work through your moods, here’s one thing to know: 

Moodiness isn’t “good” or “bad.” 

It’s neutral. 

It provides us with clues about what’s going on underneath the surface of our awareness. 

They’re like the tip of the iceberg of our inner world – the world of our thoughts, feelings, beliefs, perceptions, fears, etc.

A particularly bad mood can be like a tape caught on loop and overdrive. 

Except the tape is our mind and we tend to loop hard when we’re bothered/ pissed/ annoyed/ disappointed/ overwhelmed/ irritated… you get the idea. 

So what do we do? 

We start breathing. 

We tune into the breath and use it to help us navigate the waters of mind and emotions.

Yogic sages have known for thousands of years that the breath is the portal through which we can transform stress and anxiety while accessing a state of inner calm and grounded balance.

Our breathing patterns are intimately tied to our emotions.

Influence one, and you also impact the other. 

 They form what’s called the Breath-Emotion Loop:

1- Our emotions, thoughts, and moods influence our breathing patterns. 

Next time you’re in a mood pay attention to your breathing pattern. You’ll probably notice it’s short, shallow, erratic and/or quick. 

Then notice your breathing next time you feel calm, safe, deep in concentration, or at ease. Notice it’ll probably be slower, longer, even-paced, and/or deeper. 

2- Our breathing patterns can influence our mood. 

If you were to start breathing rapidly taking short and shallow breaths you’ll likely start feeling either awake and alert, or anxious and on guard. 

And so, if you begin breathing slowly and deeply you will most probably begin to feel less uneasy and more relaxed.

Paying attention to our breathing patterns can tell us a lot about our mood. 

Often times we’re not even aware we’re in a mood until something or someone on the outside reflects it back to us and it’s only then that we realize. 

We can become more still and present by consciously controlling our inhales and exhales, and that’s how awareness is born. 

And this is also yoga. 

You don’t need to use your body or a mat to practice yoga.

You can use only your breath and this is yogic practice (sadhana) too. 

The Hatha Yoga Pradipika, a 500-year-old authoritative yogic text states that: 

When the breath wanders the mind also is unsteady. But when the breath is calmed the mind too will be still, and the yogi achieves long life.” 

Cultivating the habit of daily breath awareness is so effective at stilling the ripples of the mind that even Buddha himself taught this practice to monks.

In particular, the Buddhist Anapanasati Sutta, also known as the “Discourse on the Full Awareness of Breathing,” details Buddha’s instructions on how to use the breath to cultivate calm focus and mindfulness (aka Anapana breathing):

“Breathing in, I know I am breathing in. 

Breathing out, I know I am breathing out. 

Breathing in, I am aware of my whole body. 

Breathing out, I am aware of my whole body. 

Breathing in, I calm my whole body. 

Breathing out, I calm my whole body” 

Mindfully paying attention to our breath means noticing and observing it without judging it and without having the need to change it in any way. 

Just noticing the inhales and exhales.

Becoming so awake, aware, and present that we can actually start to feel the inner waves our breath creates.

Bringing full awareness to the sensation and feeling of the breath coming into the nostrils and coming out of the nostrils. 

If a thought comes, (which it will, especially if you’re in a mood!) simply bring your attention back to the breath. 

Each time the mind wanders, just bring it back to the present moment – the moment where you’re breathing just as you are. Right here, right now. 

By cultivating this simple daily habit, we can start to shift the way we feel right now, so we can eventually also shift the way we perceive our reality and our experiences. 

This inevitably creates empowering changes in our mood and temperament. 

This is how we use our breath and our awareness to get over emotional humps and hurdles more quickly, more efficiently, and more productively. 

Want to give it a try? 

Join in on this guided meditation:

Remember:

“When the breath wanders the mind also is unsteady. But when the breath is calmed the mind too will be still.”

You can calm your breath by just starting to pay attention to it. 

This simple practice can have powerful exponential effects if it becomes a daily habit. 

May you find peace and refuge in your breath. 

Sat nam. 

——————-

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Osmara Aryal, MBA, the founder of CalmWithYoga.com, a site dedicated to using yogic philosophy, mindfulness, and meditation to increase inner calm, mental focus, vital energy, and quality rest. She’s a Certified Functional Nutrition Practitioner and a Certified Yoga Teacher, specializing in Yoga Nidra, Yin Yoga, and Meditation. Her work has been featured multiple times on CNN and the Miami Herald.  When she’s not exploring corners of the world with her husband, or when her eyes aren’t glued to the computer researching, you’ll find her concocting gut-healing dishes in her kitchen, or cuddling with fur-babies Yodha and Molly. 


Advertisements
1 comment on “4 Simple Ways to Meditate More”

4 Simple Ways to Meditate More

homepage.jpg

To understand the immeasurable, the mind must be extraordinarily quiet, still.”
― Jiddu Krishnamurti

Many of us find meditation incredibly difficult. Sitting, breathing… waiting? What is it all for, anyway? We read articles and watch documentaries on the powerful effects of meditation, however, the commitment to sit and meditate can be daunting. I have found some really simple practices that bring me to a meditative state that can be integrated at any moment in time. Whether you are eating dinner, talking with your family, or driving in your car, here are some simple practices to bring you back into the present moment:

1. Take A Walk

My favorite thing to clear my mind is to take a walk. Whether I am traveling in a new city or walking the streets of my hometown that I have seen a thousand times before, walking gives the experience of feeling fully integrated into the environment. Going for a walk increases endorphins, and most importantly, offers an opportunity to become more aware of your surroundings.

2. Notice Your Five Senses

No matter what you are doing right now, you can stop, and take note of your five senses. What are you seeing? Do you notice colors, shapes, or something else? What do you smell? What are you touching? How does it feel? Are you tasting anything? What can you hear? Can you stop what you are thinking, and simply relax into the experience of the five senses?

By putting our awareness on the world around us, it instantly becomes no longer about “me,” and more about our surroundings. By bringing our awareness to our present experience through the body, we can instantly become grounded in the present moment. As we become more focused we are on our own experience, the less space there is for judgment, comparison, or anything of the like.

3. Listen

I find listening to be the most profound of the five senses. When my thoughts are going haywire, when I listen to the world around me, they instantly become silenced. Where we put our attention, energy follows. By putting our attention on the world outside of our minds, our energy follows.

4. Beware of Your Words

How words hold our creative power. When we learn to be impeccable with our word, we can experience how powerful they really are. When what we say, feel, and do are in alignment, we are in great mental health. When I slow down, and really listen to what I am about to say, I am able to speak my truth freely.

Life can be a living meditation, but it takes consistent awareness to return to the present moment. These are simple practices I have personally discovered which help me regain my grounding. In this space of presence, we have access to our greater intelligence and connection in our lives. We are all already what we are looking for if we could only stop to experience it, right here, and right now. For more tips and tools on yoga, meditation, healing and the arts, head over to The Inside World.

—————

DSC_86271500px196.jpgEditor’s note: This is a guest post by Lexi Faith. Lexi teaches Sattva Yoga and Yoga Therapy, meditation, reiki and is an artist based in Bali, Indonesia. She is passionate about guiding women to reconnect to their creative, intuitive nature through coaching, yoga, meditation and the arts, and she offers daily drop in classes and retreats around the world. For more information, one on one sessions, and info on her upcoming retreats, head over to The Inside World.

11 comments on “Three Signs That You Would Benefit From Meditation”

Three Signs That You Would Benefit From Meditation

There aren’t many of us who wouldn’t benefit from meditation. In our hectic modern world, simply dedicating 20 minutes a day to peace, quiet and reflection is an act of self-care, giving us the space we need to slow down and switch off. However, there are times in life when the need for meditation can feel particularly keen, and if you recognize these signs, it may be time to start, ramp up or recommit to your meditation habit. 

1. You are tired more often than not

Feeling exhausted all the time is a common issue for us modern humans. So many of us drag ourselves out of bed, power ourselves through the day with caffeine and then – despite feeling tired all day – find it difficult to sleep at night. Every month in the USA, people type “tired all the time” 18,100 times into Google, a small hint of just how many of us feel dogged by fatigue. 

This kind of weariness seems to be a symptom of our increasingly demanding lives, and many of us wish for more motivation and energy. With more energy, we wouldn’t spend our work days in a waking doze, banking up unfinished tasks and creating stress. It would also be easier to achieve our goals in other areas of life – it’s not unusual to find ourselves crashed out on the sofa when we do have any spare time, rather than doing any of the stuff we aimed to do. 

Meditation gives us some of the rest we need in life. By focusing our mind on a mantra, practicing yoga or embracing mindfulness, we soothe our mind and body into a state of deep relaxation, allowing ourselves to switch off in a way that’s otherwise hard to achieve. This, in turn, gives us the energy boost we need, and generally makes us feel that little bit more awesome throughout the day. 

2. It feels like you have no time 

Time is something of a preoccupation in today’s culture. Our whole lives are defined by the almost arbitrary whims of the clock, in a way it would probably be difficult for our distant ancestors to imagine. Instead of following the cyclical, seasonal and celestial-based timekeeping of early humans, whose major concern was keeping the tribe fed and safe, we sacrifice much of our time to earning money and squeeze everything else in whatever time we have left. 

The result is a feeling that we simply don’t have enough time to pursue our own hobbies, build our relationships, or to just laze about if we fancy it. The speed at which the world zips by imbues us all with a false sense of urgency, where any delays or mishaps feel like an absolute disaster. Amongst the rush, we can forget about what’s actually important. 

While meditation can’t stop the clock, it can slow the pace of life a little through a change in our perception. Meditating every day provides us with a sense of calm, increasing our focus so we can appreciate the small things in life. Furthermore, because meditation can make us more productive, we tend to work through tasks with more speed and accuracy, giving us more time to simply enjoy ourselves.  

3. ‘Stressed’ is your default state 

It’s pretty normal to get stressed out every now and then, but being stressed all the time is a completely different matter. Unfortunately, like tiredness, the feeling of being constantly under pressure is something an awful lot of us can relate to. Chronic stress can make life feel far less enjoyable, as we are rarely “in the moment” but always thinking about whatever’s nagging away at us. Too much of this, and life begins to feel like it’s nothing but a meaningless list of chores and worries.  

One of meditation’s most famous and well-research benefits is reduced stress. With stress causing havoc for our health, sleep and mental wellbeing, it’s this benefit which is perhaps the most far-reaching of all. 

In many respects, meditation (in all its forms and throughout the ages) has been developed to direct the mind away from the mundane and everyday, in order to experience glimpses of the deeper truths in life. It may well be this which helps us rise above persistent worries and daily frustrations, making stress something we can manage without becoming overwhelmed. 

—————-

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Holly Ashby. Holly is a wellness writer who works with Beeja Meditation, a meditation center offering an alternative to mindfulness in London, and holds meditation events such as the music-based Shavasana Disco. 

14 comments on “Can Meditation Make Us Less Angry?”

Can Meditation Make Us Less Angry?

It can sometimes seem like the world is getting angrier. Whether it is Trumpian politics, keyboard warriors or the deluge of bad news we’re presented with on a daily basis, so much of our modern discourse seems to be fueled by animosity.

While anger is sometimes a valid and necessary response to injustice, and a driver of change, the majority of the time it fosters division and hampers our empathy. This raises an important question: are there ways we can lessen this often destructive and limiting emotion?

Anger in the Everyday

It’s in the larger themes of life – from politics to religion – that anger and annoyance are at their most obvious. Anger is deliberately fueled to entrench certain worldviews, stop people from discussing issues from a point of understanding, and obfuscate our common humanity. The people who try to stymie the freedoms of others (whether through terrorism, violence, or more subtle rhetoric and government reform) rely on their own anger at the way things are – and stoking the anger of others – to force their ideas through.

It is anger that allows immigrants to be treated badly, inspires people to picket gay rights marches, and reduces intelligent debate to shouting matches. But it isn’t only here that we see the problems resentment and outrage cause.

In our day-to-day lives and personal relationships, anger can be a significant barrier to happiness and good will. When we become irritable with our partners, children or family, we find it harder to appreciate them as a full human being – with flaws and motivations of their own – and instead accredit them with attributes and intentions that can be quite far from the truth.

When we’re irritable, a thoughtless action can suddenly be misconstrued as a deliberately provocative one. The person in question may be cast in our minds as inherently “lazy” or “annoying” or “selfish,” instead of a good person that we love who happens to have done a lazy, annoying or selfish thing. It throws up a wall which stops us from truly relating to others, and is an impediment to us actually solving the problem or communicating our point of view.

Angry emotions can also feel like something we have little conscious control over. Everyone has experienced a time where they’ve become more incensed than they need to be, snapping or shouting at someone and feeling instantly guilty afterwards – especially if we’ve managed to really hurt their feelings. If this happens too often, our loved ones can even become wary of us, walking on eggshells when really, we’re the one who is being unfair, which is a deeply problematic situation to find ourselves in.

We can find ourselves in the grips of wasted anger over things we can’t control. The deep frustration of being stuck in a long queue, filling out pointless finicky forms, the car in front driving very, very slowly when we need to be somewhere. It can all make us want to scream and cast a cloud over the rest of our day. But ultimately, these feelings get us nowhere, because we can’t change the situation even if we wanted to.

Meditation and a Sense of Calm

Anger and stress are closely related emotions that both complement and feed off each other. We are far more likely to become wound up when we feel under pressure, and much more inclined to let little things go when we feel relaxed. Similar to stress, anger is a physiological response to a perceived threat to you, your loved ones, your property, your self-image, your emotional safety or some part of your identity.

When a cat swipes at another feline intruder in their territory, they are experiencing a similar thing we do when we raise our voice at someone who has just overstepped some sort of personal boundary. Of course the major difference is that we can intellectualize and mull over our anger, even becoming angry at imagined scenarios. But the ancient “flight or fight” mechanism we share with so many other forms of life is essentially the same.

It’s this hair-trigger, lizard-brain response that practices like yoga and meditation can help to regulate. We may be influenced by similar instinctive drivers as other animals, but as humans we have the capacity to think and make steps to change our behavior, and even change the way our mind works.

Brain scans have demonstrated that regular meditation can physically reduce the size of our amygdala, which is the part of our brains which governs our flight or fight response. It also has been shown to calm our autonomic nervous system, the bodily structure through which our stress hormones – such as cortisol and adrenaline – are flooded into the body. It’s through these processes that we feel tense and unable to think clearly, but meditation appears to significantly reduce their hold over us.

Meditation also makes us more aware of our feelings and more empathetic to the feelings of others, building up the emotional bandwidth to deal with the rising tension in any given moment and put a lid on any hostility we feel towards the world. We experience the world from a far less pressured and stressed place, being able to feel anger when it arises without falling into the habitual irritations of an angry person.

With less anger and more understanding in our worldview, it becomes easier to respond appropriately to any annoyances we encounter in life, becoming calmer and (perhaps most importantly) kinder people.

——————

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Holly Ashby.  Holly is a wellness writer who works with Beeja Meditation, a meditation center in London, and has written extensively on the benefits of meditation, including less stress, increased focus, and greater corporate well-being in workplaces.