Mindfulness of Breath or Mindful Breathing for Eating Disorder sufferers.
By: Dr Irina Webster
A reader E-mailed me: “I’ve been told by my Yogi that I need to start breathing properly, He said, many of my problems relating to ED will be solved, if I learn to breathe properly, is their a link between Eating Disorders and breathing?” Please find below a wonderful article by Dr Irina Webster. Please do read it and I am sure you’ll find it very helpful. Happy Reading!
Mindful Breathing originates from Buddhism and it has been taught for centuries. In fact it is one of the major principles of Buddhism and you must learn it first of all in order to be a Buddhist.
We need to learn mindful breathing to be able to control our body and mind as well as our cravings, urges and feelings. When people have eating disorders they don’t breathe properly: their breathing is usually shallow, erratic, superficial, sometimes difficult. How often have you been out of breath – just for no reason at all? How often have you been unable to take a deep breath although you felt like you need one?
Breathing is a vital body function and therefore mindful breathing is an important part of your recovery from an eating disorder.
Now, I ask you to sit in a chair comfortably, or cross-legged on the floor –whatever you like the best. Relax and be mindful. This means you should focus all your attention to your breathing without judgment and reactivity. Just a word of judgment will slow down the healing process significantly, so don’t judge, don’t react. Just surrender.
This set of exercises teaches you to concentrate your attention on your breath without stretching any muscles. This what we call – mindfulness of breathing.
Mindfulness of breathing will make you relax without any stretch, wherever you are, at home, at work, alone, even in bed. Being able to observe the breath and have a degree of control over our reactivity, or perhaps attitude towards the breath is important in the sense that we are starting to learn self control, not just relaxation.
This set of exercises will also help in developing a degree of concentration in your mind. Often our mind is busy, stressed, obsessive, where we repeat over and over negative thoughts, unhelpful thoughts. This exercise will help you focus and remain focused.
Make sure you sit comfortably, in a chair which keeps your back straight, and this time your neck must also be kept straight. Neck straight, back straight, comfortable seated. Focus all your attention at the entrance of your nostrils and be aware of the breath coming in, going out. Simple breath, only breath, your own breath.
Feel the air you breathing – it may feel warm or cold. Just feel it without judging and be simply aware that the air is flowing continuously at the entrance of your nostrils. Notice if it comes more through the right or left nostril, if it deep or shallow, fast or slow.
When you are aware of the incoming and outgoing breath, there is no past or future. You are in the present moment, from moment to moment. Time almost doesn’t exist.
It is not often that your brain is in the present moment. Your mind wanders: in the past, in the future, in other dreams or fantasies but very rarely stays in the present moment. There are reasons for which this occurs. There are parts of the brain which are constantly activated by habit or because there’s a memory that is more or less stressful or emotional. The strength of this activation in the brain is such that we tend to repeat the thought or the memory. And because of this repetition, these pathways in the brain are activated and the thoughts related to these pathways keep intruding. They keep intruding over, and over, and over again, until you stop nurturing them by not thinking them.
Try just observe what is, rather than thinking of what is. Don’t count “One, two, One, two.” Or “In, out, in out…”,. It can actually make you forget about the breath. It can put you right in the mode of thinking, not just observing.
Learn about your own mind by focusing on your breath, from moment to moment, without judging, evaluating, or reacting to the experience. Keep practicing.