The Joy and Benefits of Breathing and Meditation

Discover the joy and benefits of breathing and meditation

Meditation is a perfect way to bring joy, clarity, flexibility, and boost wellbeing over the fifties and not only!

To go back a bit to its roots, meditation is an ancient practice that proved along the centuries to have a very positive impact on our bodies, minds, and souls, with the main purpose to direct your attention away from most external distractions for the benefit of increased mental focus and sense of calm.

Nowadays, meditation is practiced across the world and is growing in popularity everywhere.

The joy of breathing and meditation
The joy of breathing and meditation - Pixabay Elias Sch


Is free, does not require any special equipment or fitness level, could be done by anyone, anywhere (meditate in your living room, your garden, in a park or a beach); it is a very simple and quite quick practice to pick up that only needs some motivation, determination, and consistency to start enjoy it and sense the benefits.

With regular and sustained practice becomes easy to learn it, can change the structure of our brains so that we can experience more positive emotions, becomes like second nature and we can perceive a newly gained skill for a happier life.

Meditation is an ancient wellness practice that focuses on training awareness, attention, and compassion, being nonjudgmental (if a sensation is good or bad), with time, allows you to sink below the chatter of automatic thoughts and connect to a place of compassion toward yourself and others, and proved to:
- boost self-esteem and self-awareness
- boost performance and creativity
- contribute to a range of mental and physical health benefits
- control to relieve and reduce pain
- develop our level of alertness
- fight addiction
- help manage depression and anxiety and subsequently lowering our blood pressure
- improve memory, focus, and concentration
- increase feelings of calm and relaxation
- increase our immunity
- promote altruistic behavior
- reduce and cope with stress

Over the years, and depending on local traditions and influences, there are varied meditation practices developed across cultural, spiritual, and religious traditions, and you may want to try a few before choosing the one that suits you best.

Most common types of meditation could include:

1. a full-body scan (progressive relaxation) - usually starts from your feet working your way up and allows you to fully scan your body, let sensations guide you, notice tension, and release it.
2. guided visualization - practiced for stress relief, spiritual healing, and relaxation by imagining positive, relaxing experiences that make the body produce hormones that induce such feelings.
3. loving and kindness meditation - involves deep breathing, opening up your mind to loving and kindness sending those feelings out in the world, helps dissipate the feelings of anger, frustration, inner-conflict, or resentment, cultivating love and compassion toward yourself and others.
4. mindfulness of breathing - you focus on your breath(ing), observe your mind's tendency to wander, and bring your attention to the present moment and induce a sense of calm.
5. mindfulness meditation - helps you acknowledge and accept any thoughts and sensations without judgment, let them go, and focus on the present, a practice that will reduce stress and anxiety, improving focus and memory.
6. QI Gong - life energy meditation - uses a special system of breathing techniques, movements, and postures to circulate energy throughout your body and mind, and increase balance.
7. transcendental meditation (made famous by the Beatles group) - has as main goal the state of enlightenment. When practicing you sit in yoga Lotus posture, chant on a given personal mantra, and focus on rising above negativity.
8. walking meditation - best done outdoors, eventually walking barefoot on grass or beach sand, paying attention to nature's sounds as it awakens, and the main focus is the walking.

Breathing and meditation practice
Breathing and meditation practice - Pixabay Atranias

The monk method meditation

As described by Jay Shetty in his book “Think like a monk” - thru regular breathing practice is connecting our minds, our souls often are lifted in songs (chanting), and once we’ll feel the place of energy and unity, we’ll find the answers.

The monk meditation is done every morning and night (before going to sleep), it starts with 21 minutes, giving yourself 7 minutes for each step, and combines 3 powerful steps of daily practice:
- breathing practice
- visualization
- chanting

The monk meditation practice:

- sit on a chair or lie comfortably on a bed or yoga mat
- close your eyes, stay straight eventually with your hands on your belly, and relax
- if your mind wanders and thoughts are coming up, observe them yet softly bring your mind back to calm, balance, ease, peace, and stillness
- become aware of your breath, breathe in and inhale while counting to 4, then breathe out exhaling counting to 4
- learn gratitude – ask yourself what are you thankful for today. Recall and visualize a joy-filled memory and think at 5 things you could see, 4 things you could touch, 3 things you could hear, 2 things you could smell, and 1 thing you could taste. Take the love and joy of that unique moment and picture it flowing throughout your entire body letting it surround you.
- learn purpose – ask yourself what is your purpose for today and set it at that moment.

Repeat for 3 times each of the following:
- I am happy for who I am becoming
- I am open to all opportunities and possibilities
- I am worthy of real love
- I am ready to serve with all I have

Then follow Jay Shetty’s wisdom advice and every night when you’re falling asleep, say to yourself “I am relaxed, energized, and focused. I am calm, enthusiastic, and productive.”

Getting into the habit of practicing meditation has been shown to help us (re)discover and sense our range of feelings, and over time, it can improve our happiness and/ or how optimistic we feel, and for more religious and spiritual people, will increase the sense of spirituality.

Once we’ll start to feel more happy thinking and practicing meditation, we’ll become more confident and relaxed, we build empathy and compassion, we’ll accept who we are as human beings, improve our relationships with other people, be surprised to notice an increase in our sense of fulfillment, and start getting into the real joy of meditation.

Breathing and meditation
Breathing and meditation - Pixabay Feelgoodjunkie

The basics of meditation start with the breathing technique

– to better enjoy the benefits of meditation you need to re-learn to breathe and follow the breathing exercises regularly.

4 – 7 – 8 is the most common meditation breathing technique to quickly induce relaxation.

Start with your first breath:
- close your mouth and inhale through your nose while counting to 4
- hold your breath for a count of 7
- exhale completely through your mouth, making a “whoosh” sound counting to 8
Now inhale again and repeat the cycle 3 more times for a total of 4 breaths, or as long as you need to feel completely relaxed.

8 Steps and 8 words to breathing techniques for meditation and joy

Here below I'll share with you a meditation breathing practice for cultivating joy that can be used anytime and anywhere.

Each breath sequence has a single dedicated word to help you remember and focus your attention.

Feel free to do the entire practice in eight breaths, or if more comfortable, spend a few more minutes on each exercise before moving to the next one.

1. The word to say to yourself during the first breath technique is breath.
Set yourself comfortably, and the very first breath, bring your awareness to the sensation of your breathing, paying close attention to the physical sensation of your breath as it moves in and out.
Follow your inhale/ exhale sensation from the beginning to the end.

2. The word for the second breathing exercise is the body.
Bring your attention to all of the sensations in your entire body. Allow your awareness to completely scan and fill your body, and notice what you find.
Some sensations will be pleasant, some unpleasant, and others neutral.
Ideally would be to allow yourself to feel these new sensations without trying to change them, only be aware of them, and pay more attention to any heaviness, irritability, or tension.

3. The word for the third breath is release.
Now you can actively release all of the agitation, heaviness, and tension in your body. To help visualize this, imagine that it is being washed out of you with every single breath out.

4. The word for the fourth breath is love.
With your heart filled with love and generosity toward yourself now, say to yourself “May you have ease and lightness of body and mind” and you are wishing yourself well, and sending compassion to your body and mind.

5. The word for the fifth breath is cravings.
Do you find yourself sometimes wishing reality to be different than it is right now, or not accepting and fighting against actual things or situation? Notice if there are any cravings or aversions and let yourself feel them without trying to make them go away; they are not your enemy, but they are a part of you that needs special love and care.
As we all know, in every moment of our life, there are so many reasons to put up with as well as plenty of reasons to be happy. What matters is where we’re focusing our attention to keep a healthy mind and soul.

6. The word for the sixth breath is letting go.
You may already know that everything you need to be happy is already present at this moment.
Same regarding the problems, they do exist, but they are not everything. There are always a lot of positive conditions for freedom, peace, and joy around us.
For this “letting go” breath, focus on everything in life that is good now, forget about regretting the past or worrying about the future, be present here and now for the miracles happening in our life.

7. The word for the seventh breath is alive.
With this breath, we are aware of and recognize the miracle of being alive in the present moment. As you breathe, feel the positive and immense energy of life moving through you. Let the experience of being alive surround you and see what a precious thing this is to treasure every single minute and acknowledge this truth.

8. The word for the eighth breath is beauty.
With this breath become aware of all of the beauty within and around you as a revelation.

Once we learn to let go of our desires and wake up to the present moment, we can see that reality itself is amazingly beautiful. All of our senses (our mental perception, sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch) are constantly offering this beauty to us like a very unique and precious gift. All we have to do is to accept and enjoy it every single moment!

You can learn practice the following 8 (eight) breaths to joy:
- Breath (in and out)
- Body (in and out)
- Release (in and out)
- Love (in and out)
- Craving (in and out)
- Letting go (in and out)
- Alive (in and out)
- Beauty (in and out)

Using the 8 breaths technique you’ll learn more about life itself and compassion, can improve focus your attention to better ways to cope with daily challenges, stay calm and positive throughout the day, and enjoy life.
Wisdom quote from Jay Shetty “The emotion you fall asleep with at night is most likely the feeling you’ll wake up with in the morning”.

Relaxing breathing meditation
Relaxing breathing meditation - Pixabay Bhikku Amitha

7 Steps Meditation to induce Joy

Every single moment we are relaxed and practice meditation we open a door to experience joy and bring it into our life!

Joy, calm, and happiness are always with us, all we need is to be in touch with our senses, be aware of them, connect, let them in, and surround us.

We can only master thru practice, so the more we practice meditation and invoking wellbeing, the more available will become all its benefits.

Try to get into the habit of using the following practice to train your body and mind to experience calm and joy at this very moment.

As you open the door and invite happiness and positive emotions into your life this way, you will gradually transform your life into a more joyful life.

Peaceful moment meditation
Peaceful moment meditation - Flickr Vasile Hurghis

Use this practice to rediscover your natural connection with joy.

1. First of all, find a friendly place where to get comfortable either on a chair, lying on a bed, or a yoga mat, and to help focus, close your eyes.
Inhale and exhale slowly and deeply and become aware of your breath until you reach a sense of ease.
Think about inhaling fresh air, positive thoughts, and let go of any tension as you exhale. Let the warmth of relaxation flow through your whole body, from your head all the way down to your feet, and out of your body.

2. Find your own way to unwind and concentrate on your own being, with your body relaxed, your emotions calm, your mind peaceful and spacious.

3. Try to avoid paying attention to any external sound and focus on your own space and concentrate on breathing without other thoughts.

4. Recall a very happy yet peaceful moment, eventually when you were in a beautiful place (a walk in the woods, swimming in the night looking to the dark blue sky full of shiny golden stars, the sound of a shimmering waterfall, a spring garden in bloom) or with a very good friend - without triggering an avalanche of emotions, just pure joy, and serenity.

5. Think at that past experience and recall as many details as you can. If possible, bring an image of that moment to mind and think of sounds, colors, taste that made you happy at that time…

6. Remember the sensation induced in your body by that experience of joy and well-being.
What did joy feel like in your mind? And how your body did feel? Light, joy, calmness, energy, clear, now, present, vivid? Take a few moments to let your awareness feel all those sensations in your body, mind, and soul and sink while inhaling and exhaling. Relax into this feeling with each breath in and out.

7. Practice recalling this image or another one that brings similar feelings of well-being every day for one week.
Along the way, you may notice that you can invoke and sustain those feelings of wellbeing without having to re-create that specific memory image.

This meditation practice will become very useful whenever you want to shift your mood to a more positive and optimistic one, give a fresh boost to your mind or simply want to open yourself to tranquility and joy.

Soon you’ll notice that the longer you’ll practice meditation, the more your personality will change and improve. Meditation is linked to higher levels of openness, bringing a lot of mental and physical health benefits.

Nurturing joy is a vital part of mindfulness practice. Joy helps us to be more fully present in life, and it also gives us the motivation we need to embrace and transform our suffering, be more optimistic and find solutions to cope with everything in our life.

Moreover, thru meditation, you’ll be learning to gain perspective and space for self-compassion, and be present - which is the only way to live a truly rich, full, and happier life.

Did you learn the correct breathing techniques and discover the benefits and the joy of meditation?
Feel free to share your experience!

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