WELCOME to my MIDL Mindfulness Softening Skill Training Classroom.
Through practicing simple, gentle breathing exercises you can learn the skill of turning off the Anxious Response through Mindful non-participation – ‘Softening Into’. Turning off the Anxious Response in this way means that you can be with any Unpleasant Emotional Responses in your life without reacting therefore Deconditioning the Habitual Patterns of reaction.
Exercise 3: Retraining Diaphragm Breathing: Seated
a) Sit down in a comfortable posture and place your two palms below your belly button. Close your eyes and gently breathe in through your nose. Feel your diaphragm moving slowly from below your ribs down to your palms.
b) Gently breathe out from your palms and back through your nose. Feel your diaphragm move slowly up from your palms to just below your ribs.
c) Notice that as your diaphragm moves downward on the in-breath; your chest expands upwards from the base of your ribs to the top of your chest. Feel your chest fill and expand upward like a balloon filling with air.
d) Notice that as your diaphragm moves upward on the out-breath; your chest falls / contracts like a deflating balloon. Avoid using the chest muscles or stomach muscles to do this breathing exercise, instead learn to feel your diaphragm moving slowly downwards on the in-breath and slowly upwards on the out-breath.
b) Learning to Physically Soften / Relax
a) Notice that each time your breath goes out your body naturally relaxes with the contraction / deflation of the out-breath. Each time your breath goes out allow your shoulders / chest / arms to drop; to soften / relax.
b) Relax your whole body as if you are sliding down the breath – allow the out-breath to teach you how to soften / relax your body. ‘Drop’ your whole body with the out-breath / contraction.
c) This can be done because the in-breath makes your body expand outwards – like a balloon filling with air. You’re out-breath causes your body to deflate / contract inwards – naturally softening / relaxing ‘dropping’ your body.
Exercise 4: Learning to mentally relax
Letting out a sigh is a natural way of releasing mental tension when we experience frustration. This mechanism of being able to release mental tension can be harnessed in a skilful way, one not based on frustration but instead based on stilling mental activity through settling mental energy. When connected with the deflation of the out-breath it creates a powerful Softening Into technique. It is important when inflating the chest to do so from the diaphragm and not by engaging the chest and upper back muscles.
This diaphragm breathing skill is exercised in Step 1 & 2. This is done to disengage the fatigued chest muscles in =volved in stressed / anxious breathing and allows them to relax and release.
By cultivating, slow, gentle sighs out through the nose and connecting them with the 'drop' of the body on the out-breath - trained in the previous exercise, mental stillness can be accessed quite easily during seated meditation and also in daily life. The skill of 'Softening' using slow gentle sighs becomes a vehicle to be with 'unpleasantness' within an experience so that we can 'Soften Into' it, dissolving any reactions that habitually come from aversion to the experience. This then creates a path for deconditioning negative habitual responses that lead to suffering within our lives, through Mindful non-participation.
Softening / relaxing your mind through training, slow, gentle sighs.
a) As you relax with the out-breath let out a gentle, silent ‘sigh’ along the length of the contraction – allowing yourself to mentally sink / relax. Keep the ‘sigh’ gentle, quiet and effortless along the length of your out-breath.
b) Allow yourself to mentally sink with each ‘sigh’ along your out-breath. Both your mind and body becoming heavier, softer, calmer; more still.
Focus on making the breaths slow – gentle – effortless. c) During this process gently relax your eyes / eyelids, forehead and frontal lobes of the brain with each outgoing sigh to experience the full effect.
I can teach you simple, easy to learn Mindfulness techniques to help you to manage and experience freedom from anxiety / stress within your life