Mindfulness Methods: Mindful Breathing
This post is part of our Mindfulness Methods series, a collection of blogs dedicated to exploring different techniques we use to enhance our float experiences. There’s no wrong way to float, but sometimes we need a little help to get the most out of our time in the tank.
When new customers come into SYNC to float for the first time, we often recommend that they begin their float by counting their breaths. We do this especially if they don’t have any previous experience with mindfulness. Focusing on the breath is perhaps the simplest way to begin to learn how to calm the body and bring your focus to the present moment. Both of these processes are beneficial in allowing the body and mind to rest and rejuvenate.
Calming the Body
“The process of healing begins when we mindfully breathe in.”
-Thich Nhat Hanh
Our breath is unique in that it is one of the few automatic body processes we can take control of at any given moment. When our body is under stress, our heart rate increases, our liver releases sugar into the bloodstream, our stomach increases the production of digestive fluids, our lungs take shorter, quicker breaths, and several other reactions take place. Of all these processes, the breath is the one thing we can voluntarily manage. In doing so, we actually reverse the entire process. The heavy, humid air inside a float tank naturally encourages deep, rhythmic breathing. As we allow that, it triggers the rest of the body to relax.
Lowering the stress response is actually what allows the body to start healing. When our stress is high, the body turns off many restorative pathways in order to allocate more resources for dealing with whatever is causing the response. Calming the body sends the message it’s time to recover. The environment in a float tank is conducive to deep relaxation that facilitates the healing process.
Focusing on the Present
“We suffer more in imagination than in reality.”
The other purpose for focusing on the breath is to quiet our thoughts and bring us into the present moment. By focusing, it keeps our brain from dancing around like it normally does. It prevents us from worrying about the future and reliving our past. Expect your mind to wander even though you’re trying to keep it from doing so. The practice is in noticing it wandering and guiding it back to the breath. It will get easier to keep the mind quiet for longer with practice. Eventually, you’ll learn to slip into a state where you’re so present you aren’t able to step far enough out of it to observe it. It is in this stillness that we’re often the most in tune with ourselves. It is in this stillness that both peace and clarity come.
Give mindful breathing a try during your next float. It’s simple, effective, and can assist you into deeper levels of relaxation and healing.
Do you have another mindfulness method you like to use in the tank? Tell us on social media!
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