Meditation for Better Breathing
When many people hear the word meditation, they think of some new age mumbo jumbo. It is immediately dismissed, never realizing the good that can come from it. Then there are others that try it and complain their mind wanders or they expect something to happen immediately.
“The goal of meditation isn’t to control your thoughts. It’s to stop letting them control you.” -unknown
Types of meditation
There are many types of meditation, with no wrong or right way. The most common and the ones I use on a regular basis are transcendental meditation, mindfulness meditation, and visualization meditation. This is also known as guided meditation.1
Transcendental meditation is simple and can be done anywhere. With this type of meditation, you silently repeat a mantra that has meaning to you over and over. Some people chant the word Om, common in Hindu or Buddha practices. Phrases or mantras with personal meanings are my favorite. I like to use the mantra, “I am healing.” I visualize my body and lungs healthy and free of any illness.
Mindfulness meditation focuses on being in the present moment. With this type of meditation, you can concentrate on your breath. This is when I practice my pursed-lip breathing and learn to slow my breathing down. It is a technique that is helpful when you are in a panic situation because of shortness of breath.
A simple practice
Here is a simple way to practice meditation.
Find a quiet spot. Turn off phone, television and any other distractions. Sit in a comfortable chair. Soft instrumental music or nature sounds help you to relax, but aren't necessary. Concentrate on relaxing the breath. Slow your breathing, using the diaphragm if possible and relax the neck and shoulders. Once your breathing is slowed and you’re comfortable, begin saying your mantra or even a short prayer in your mind. Concentrate on the words, repeating over and over. Continue this for fifteen minutes, eventually increasing the time if you want. I have found a daily practice of this, once in the morning and once in the evening, relaxes me, and has decreased my anxiety. The routine is particularly helpful on a day when shortness of breath is increased.
Meditation takes practice. It is common for your mind to wander and allow other thoughts in. This is fine. Acknowledge the thoughts, then return to focusing on your mantra. Remember, there is no wrong way. It is your meditation. As you become more comfortable, there are many other types of meditation to experiment with.
Another practice I enjoy is to find a positive quote that has meaning to me and quietly reflect upon it. I think about the words. Why does it resonate with me? How do I fit it into my life? I will include this type of meditation into a journal. I keep it separate from my health journal since it contains many private thoughts.
The medical profession is becoming more aware of the positive benefits of meditation. I have read articles of the practice being taught in school, even taking the place of detention. It has helped me tremendously to manage anxiety on a daily basis. In turn, when partnered with my exercise routine, my breathing has gotten better. Shortness of breath episodes are easier to manage.
Do you meditate? If so, has it helped you with COPD or anxiety? I would love to hear from you.
Editor's Note: We are heartbroken to share that Carol passed away in February of 2022. Carol's storytelling and advocacy will be deeply missed, but her legacy lives on through her articles and in all the people she inspired.
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