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Using Mindfulness and Breathing To Control The Inner Narrator

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*This is a guest post from Misbah Haque of the Airborne Mind

Mindfulness - A mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.

We evolved from threat detection. Constantly being on guard. So when our body thinks we are in danger, it shuts down.

1. The first step is to understand that we have the ability to hack our minds and get out of this rut.

2. The next step is to view mental exercise the same way we view physical exercise. 

3. Every time you get lost in thought and you notice that it’s happening, that’s a rep for your brain.

There’s a difference between actually being angry and anxious vs being mindful of that anger and anxiety. Imagine stepping outside of yourself or a friend observing you. You would watch your reactions to certain things in a non-attached way.

Here’s the secret. You can’t win at meditation. It’s not a competitive sport. You’re winning as soon as you realize that the clown in your head is just a clown. That’s all it is. We’re telling ourselves a bunch of stories all day long. Some are good and some are bad. But it’s not a reality until you make it reality.

I get it. Right now, it might sound so out of reach.

Sometimes you’re yanked out of balance when life throws certain obstacles your way. But the path has already been paved for you. The structure and systems that I’ll show you over the next few days are simple, yet effective.

We have systems so when we fall off the wagon, we have something to go back to. And with practice, instead of being yanked out of balance for days at a time, you’ll be able to pick yourself back up within a few minutes or hours.

You are in ultimate control. Greg Flaxman and Lisa Flook wrote a brief summary on mindfulness research. Check it out here to dive a little deeper into the science.

Why do we always talk about “breathing” when we mention mindfulness and meditation?

If you were trapped in a dessert, how long could you go without eating food? How about drinking water?

How about breathing?

If you stopped breathing for just a few minutes, you’d no longer be alive. Breathing brings fresh oxygen to your vital organs, helps release toxins, regulates stress, and much more. It’s something that is always there. It’s free of cost and available in abundance.

Our generation primarily consists of shallow breathers. Think about when you’re rushing from task to task. Sometimes when I’m really into my writing or in “go” mode, my chest almost hurts trying to take a deep breath. It’s like I forgot how to breathe deeply. That’s when you really need to take some time to step out of the noise for a second. Take in some oxygen. Let it circulate around inside your body.

Guess how many times we breathe in a given day? 17,000-30,000 breaths.

How many of those breaths are we really aware of?

The beauty is that once you can start appreciating the art of breathing slowly, that mindfulness state is within your reach.

You might think about your boss. You might think about your latest projects. But you don’t react. You don’t get tangled up. You allow yourself to be in control of how you respond to things going on around you.

The ultimate test for me is when I’m around someone who really pushes my buttons. Just like anyone else, sometimes I’m put in situations where I’m around groups of people I simply cannot stand. Instead of reacting to all the things I dislike about those people or that situation, breathing through it allows me to be more mindful. It prevents me from wasting energy.

Your inner-voice is chatting away. And you are simply taking that volume button, and dialing it down.

Breathing and mindfulness go hand in hand because the past and the future become irrelevant. Think about stepping onto the platform for your second attempt in the Snatch. The first attempt is gone. It’s in the past, lost forever. The third attempt is not real because it hasn’t happened yet. And it won’t happen, until you get through the second attempt.

If I miss my first attempt, there’s an immediate rush of butterflies that fills my stomach. The pressure is turned up 360 degrees. If that’s all I can think about and react to, I will get tripped up in my later attempts. Without a doubt.

Concentrating on your breath helps you stay focused of what’s in front you. That “zone” we search for, can be achieved by simply controlling your breath.


Misbah is a weakness manager for newcomers and CrossFitters looking to get stronger. His coaching practice is centered around filling the holes in movement so you can keep doing what you love for a long time. He also runs the blog @airbornemind Facebook: Facebook.com/airbornemind

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Working Against Gravity was established in 2014. Our nutrition coaches work one-on-one with clients to build custom programs that fit their needs. Our goal is to help each client discover a program that makes sense for them and produces lasting results, helping them develop a positive relationship with food—and themselves—along the way.

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