Meditation techniques to calm an anxious mind


Lori Deschene

Have you ever found it hard to motivate yourself to do something that was good for you, only to eventually do it, feel amazing, and wonder why you waited so long?

Whether you’re new to meditation or just looking for some alternative ways to fit mindfulness into your daily life, you may enjoy trying one or more of these practices:

Alternate nostril breathing: Hold your left nostril down with your left thumb and inhale through your right nostril. Then close your right nostril with your left index finger, so both are closed, and hold the breath. Release your left nostril only and exhale. With your right nostril still closed, inhale through your left. Now close your left nostril with your thumb, so both nostrils are closed, and hold the breath. Release your index finger from your right nostril and exhale. This is one set. Complete a minimum of five sets to harmonise the left and right hemispheres of your brain, calm your nervous system, and create a sense of relaxation and ease.

The 100-breaths technique: Close your eyes. Feel your back against your chair and your feet pressed firmly on the ground, then gently bring yourself into the present moment. Now start breathing through your nostrils and counting as you go, thinking “and” for every inhale, and the number for each exhale – inhale “and,” exhale “one”; inhale “and,” exhale “two.” Feel your belly rise with each inhalation and let the breaths slow as you count yourself into a greater sense of relaxation. After you reach 100, open your eyes, move your fingers and toes, and bow your head in gratitude for the mental space you created.

Full body breath scan: Start by inhaling through your nose, expanding your stomach, and counting to five. As you breathe in, visualise soothing warm light filling your feet, and then exhale through your lips for a count of five, while visualising yourself releasing any tension you may have been carrying there. Repeat this process for your ankles, your shins, your knees, and so on, all the way up to your head. After you finish scanning your entire body, you’ll likely feel lighter, calmer and more at ease.

Lip-touching breathing: When aroused, your sympathetic nervous system puts you in a state of high alert – that sense of fight-or-flight panic that tells you there’s some sort of threat. Your parasympathetic nervous system, when aroused, produces the opposite feeling – a sense of relaxation and ease. The lips contain parasympathetic nerve fibres, making this is a simple approach to create a sense of calm that you can use anywhere, anytime. All you need to do is touch your lips, breathe slowly and tell yourself, “I am safe.”                             (To be continued)