The esoteric sounding soft belly meditation may first make you cringe, but if you are fighting stress, you need it more than anything else.
To fitness freaks like me, who salivate at the thought of having six-pack abs, physical trainers and gym instructors will often stress how important it is to keep your abs tight and contracted throughout the day.
Contracting the abdominal muscles burns calories and strengthens the core. Fair enough.
What they don't know or don't tell you is that doing it reverses your breathing pattern and causes the opposite of physical relaxation.
Keeping everything tighter and breathing into your chest causes the stomach to go in on the inhale and go out on the exhale — this is backwards!
It is reverse of what nature intended and harmful, because it prevents the vagus nerve from being stimulated by the breath.
The vagus nerve tells the brain to relax the body.
To further complicate the matter, breathing 'backwards' causes stimulation of the adrenals, which release stress hormones, like cortisol, into the body.
These stress hormones, floating around in the body for extended periods, prevent absorption of nutrients and leech nutrients from tissues, including bone.
Breathing properly to manage physical stress is a pre-requisite to managing any emotional stress you may be dealing with.
Without first neutralizing the daily physical stress on our body, we risk being overwhelmed by the negative effects of any added emotional strain.
Soft belly meditation technique
In soft belly meditation, we have room for it all. Room to be born again. Room to heal, to be. Room even to die.
Embrace the mercy and the awareness moment to moment. Breath to breath.
Let thoughts come. Let thoughts go. Let them float like bubbles in the vast spaciousness of soft belly.
Hold on to nothing. Experience the vast spaciousness.
Do the meditation for at least 10 minutes daily, preferably twice.
Your belly is your center. Being more in touch with it will help you in a lot of ways, including knowing the exact sensations and emotions in your body at any moment.
And it will help you figure out where you stand, so you can better decide what to do.
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