- Mental Health
Karate Breathing Meditation for Stress Reduction
The Karate Breathing Meditation (and other, similar, meditations) is a simple method of relaxation that you can use to bring relief from stress and tension.
It combines an ideal posture with thoughtful (or 'mindful') breathing - where you can start training your mind not to dwell on worries and to simply accept the moment and enjoy it without guilt or stress, or you can begin to train your mind to be able to see and accept events that might be stressful, but without attaching importance to them.
Research has shown that meditation, when practiced regularly, can have a big positive impact on physical and mental health, and even just devoting a few minutes each day to purposefully relaxing can lift your mood and improve your relationships with other people.
Instructions for a Simple Karate Breathing Meditation
- Sit comfortably, either on a hard-backed chair, or on the floor in a posture similar to one of those shown in the photos to the right. If you feel a little uncomfortable in your chosen position, use a cushion to make yourself more comfortable.
- The important things to remember are that your back should be straight, your shoulders relaxed, and you should be able to imagine a straight line running from the top of the crown of your head down through your bodyto your stomach.
- Don't strain! You should be sitting as straight as you can, but you should also be relaxed. Sit in the position that makes you feel most comfortably 'alert', and which makes you feel that you can breathe most easily.
- Now pay attention to your breathing. Your breaths should be fairly deep and slow. Breathe regularly in and out, smoothly. When you breathe in, feel your lungs expand, and your breath reaching to your diaphragm. Let your breath flow in and out.
- Most people find this exercise most relaxing with their eyes closed, but do what feels comfortable for you.
- As you continue to breathe and focus on your breathing, allow thoughts to come and go and drift through your mind without attaching any importance or emotion to them. If you find this difficult you aren't alone - this simple task is the most difficult hurdle in meditation! But it does become easier the more you practice - so try to give yourself permission to think of non-worrying things just for a few minutes: think of clouds, or a forest; a lake, or any other ideal place that makes you feel more relaxed.
- At the beginning, just try this simple exercise for a few minutes. Trying to do it for longer may be counter-prductive, because it can be hard to keep out thoughts relaxing, and that can be frustrating - but if you do the exercise every day, it will become easier, and you will find that you will become more relaxed at other times in your day too - even when stressful things are happening.
How Often and for How Long Should You Practice Meditation?
Although some people practice very long sessions of breathing meditation once they have mastered the technique of relaxing their body and mind, most people find that regular sessions are more enjoyable and effective than long ones.
Think of meditation as recharging your batteries - a few minutes morning and evening can set you up for the day, and relax you ready for a good night's sleep, without demanding too much of your time.
Just remember to relax, breathe, and be comfortable - whether you light a candle and watch the flickering flame while you meditate, or play soft music or sounds of nature - this is your time, and your relaxation, so make the most of it, and let your stress and tension drift away.