Several months back, I wrote about some of the misconceptions that I believe keep people from trying meditation. (You can find that post here.) The good news is that there are a number of very simple and super effective ways to get started with a meditation practice. One of the easiest is a meditation I still use whenever I feel stressed or anxious because of how well it works.
The 4-7-8 Method, at its core, is just an easy breathing exercise. Start by getting in a comfortable position. I find sitting in a supportive chair or lying down on my bed to be the best places, but feel free to stand, or even use this as a walking meditation if you wish. It’s really about what’s going to make you feel supported and relaxed, so don’t stress yourself further by trying to find the perfect place to perform this meditation. Wherever you are is the perfect place. You begin by simply inhaling deeply through your nose to the count of 4, holding that breath in your lungs for a count of 7, and then completing the cycle by breathing out slowly through your mouth for a count of 8. From there you repeat the process until you feel calm and centered. Sometimes this happens quickly and other times it can take several cycles until you can feel your heart rate slow and your shoulders relax. There isn’t a magic number of cycles, so just focus on the breath and let your body respond. You’ll know when it’s working.
If you want to add something to the practice to make it feel really special and aid in the relaxation process, try adding an essential oil to the mix. For this, I really love using Balance, dōTERRA’s Grounding Blend . The fresh, woodsy aroma reminds me of being in my favorite place in nature and I think it makes the experience feel sacred and allows me to slow down even further and relish the process. I apply one drop in the palm of my hands, rub them together, and cup my hands over my nose during the inhale part of the breathing cycle. It’s already pre-diluted in a base of fractionated coconut oil, so I like that it’s ready to go, especially when I’m looking at fending off panic. For single oils, I like Frankincense and Lavender. Both are known for their relaxing properties, and are wonderful multipurpose oils that I get a lot of mileage out of. If you don’t have time to dilute your oils, don’t worry! You can inhale directly from the bottle, without applying any to the skin and will still get the same benefit.
A final tip for using this powerful practice; should you find yourself struggling to fall asleep, give it a go instead of counting sheep. The repetitive nature of the exercise doesn’t just help you come back to yourself during high stress and panic episodes, but is fantastic for quieting the chatter that keeps our minds from winding down before sleep. All this from breathing. Not bad for something you were going to do already!
Wishing You Total Well-Being,