When life seems overwhelming, meditation is a healing tool we can use to calm the body and focus the mind. Qigong, often referred to as moving meditation, combines conscious breathing with gentle movement to help reduce stress and increase vitality. When stress is reduced and the mind is focused, it is easier to bring our thoughts and emotions back into balance.
Deep mindful breathing is one of the best ways to reduce anxiety and stress. Deep breathing helps increase the supply of oxygen to the brain, which stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system. This helps to promote a sense of calmness and relaxation.
The next time you are feeling anxious, try this simple breathing practice to help restore clarity. This practice is also excellent if worry is keeping you awake at night. You can do this lying down, sitting, or standing, which makes this practice readily accessible anytime you need to feel a sense of calm.
Start by concentrating on counting your breaths. This helps to focus the mind. Find a comfortable position and begin to take long, deep breaths, inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. Slowly inhale for two counts and slowly exhale for two counts. Repeat this five or six times or until you feel yourself beginning to relax.
Synchronize Your Breath with Gentle Movement
Introduce some gentle movement with your deep breathing practice. Stand in a comfortable position with your feet shoulder-width apart. Relax your shoulders and let your arms hang loosely at your sides. Make sure your knees are relaxed and not locked. In this posture, be aware of all parts of your body and feel the life force circulating throughout. Gently sway from side to side shifting your weight from one leg to the other.
You can include arm movements if you wish. As you sway from side to side, with your palms facing down, trace a figure-eight shape in front of you at abdomen level. Although the motion is slight, this is a very soothing practice. Breathe slowly and comfortably and allow the calming movement to alleviate worries and fears.
Walk with Intention
There are many forms of Qigong walking. An easy way to begin is to walk mindfully. Begin with your feet firmly on the ground. Let your arms and hands hang loosely at your sides. Close your eyes for a minute and take five two-count breaths. Begin walking. Take slow steps while noticing the sensations of each step. Incorporate breath work as you walk, such as inhaling when stepping on the right foot and exhaling when stepping on the left foot. You can let your arms gently swing side to side in front of you. Walk slowly and with purpose. Place your intention on relaxing and releasing concerns. Whenever worries begin to loom, or the path in front of you doesn’t seem clear, try practicing one of these techniques. Tranquility is just a breath away.
By Kate Branson