A person sitting cross-legged practicing a breathing meditation.

Take a deep breath: How simple breathing can help you start meditating 

It’s easy to talk about avoiding stress, but it’s harder to put that talk into action at the same time as you’re going about your regular life. (This can be even harder if you happen to be trying to conceive. Stress is bad for the mechanics of conception, bad for one’s state of mind during the process…it’s just bad.) So even though we hear “just relax” all the time, how do we actually do it?

Breathing techniques to help with meditation

If it’s not something you already do, adding meditation to your life may sound out-there and kind of dubious as a stress-reliever – but don’t cross it out just yet. Some research, including a 2011 neurological study, points to the benefits of meditation as a stress reliever. And focusing on your breath is one of the simplest ways to get started.

Where to get started

Meditation is, technically, something you can do anywhere at any time, without any special materials or equipment. If you’re just starting out, though, you may want to choose a relatively quiet place for yourself – somewhere where you feel both physically and mentally comfortable. The key is being able to get in your own “happy place” without being distracted.

Breathe in…

Meditation is meant to be relaxing, but it’s not like vegging out. Sit up straight, keep your shoulders back and your posture strong, though not rigid. You can sit cross-legged or in a chair, however you feel most comfortable, as long as your spine is straight, supporting your body in a clean line. From this position, you’ll be able to breathe deeply, which is important because focusing on the pattern of your breathing is where you’ll want to begin.

From here, just breathe. As you breathe, you can close your eyes or let them unfocus, as long as nothing in your vision pulls your focus away from your breath. If it helps you to keep your focus on your breath, you can try breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth.

…And breathe out

When you’re ready to stop, take a moment to open or refocus your eyes and adjust. Depending on how you feel, you might want to take a moment to do some stretches or just regroup as you ease yourself out of meditation and back into your day-to-day life.

Beyond basics?

Some methods of meditation also recommend a more specific focus on your breathing as a way to start, like a system of counting your breaths in cycles of ten. Take care not to force breaths that are too much slower or longer than your natural pattern of breathing and count an inhale-exhale pair for each number, and the ten-counts will give your mind something simple enough to become automatic to center around.

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