Practicing mindfulness activities, including breath awareness is a practical tool known by yogis over 5000 years ago and now proven by modern science to affect cognitive function and balance our nervous system. Practicing this cultivates a relaxation response which becomes dominant after conditioning, whereas one is calm during stressful everyday life situations and is more easily able to bring a wandering attention back and keep focused attention.
To say it plainly, if you change your breathing pattern, you can change your state of being.
A wandering mind is an unhappy mind. Research suggests that our minds are only paying attention to the present moment half of the time. We have become more distracted than ever before with cell phones, social media, overwhelming deadlines, and commitments all competing for our attention. Constant never-ending distractions, lack of awareness and ability to focus ones attention, have become a way of life.
Distraction – which leads to this wandering mind syndrome, is the cause of increased stress in our minds and bodies. When stressed for a sustained amount of time, our nervous system becomes compromised creating a more fight-or-flight reactive state as the dominate state of our being.
The quality of our attention is fundamentally important.
[philosopher and psychologist] William James, in his 2 vol tome written in 1890, has a whole chapter on Attention. He states, “the faculty of voluntarily bringing back a wandering attention over and over again is the very root of judgement, character and will.” He also states, that an education which improves this faculty would be the education of par excellence.
Slow the inhalation and exhalations down.
Focus your total attention on your breath, the abdomen as it expands and contracts
Allowing the exhalation to be longer than the inhalation
Repeat for 15-20 breaths