Developing Inner Calm: A Meditation Practice for Handling Challenges

In today's session, we will explore a powerful technique to develop a sense of inner calm. This practice will serve as a refuge, helping us handle challenges and struggles with greater ease.

To begin, find a quiet spot where you can sit comfortably. Gently close your eyes and soften your face, neck, and shoulders. Root down through your sitting bones and lengthen up through the crown of your head, without creating tension in your body.

Tap into your breath and take a few deep cleansing inhales and exhales. Feel your whole body gently expanding and contracting with the depth of your breath.

Now, let's focus on our exhales. As we turn our attention to the out breaths, our minds begin to quiet, and our bodies settle down. Today, we will use a slightly longer exhale as a way to shift our attention away from the busyness of our heads.

We will begin by breathing in together for a count of four and exhaling for a count of six. Then, we will keep the inhale at four and try exhaling for a count of eight. If at any point you find this count too long or intense, return to a rhythm that feels comfortable for you, placing the emphasis on your out breaths.

Now, exhale whatever breath is left in your body and together, inhale for a count of four and exhale for a count of six. Inhale for four and exhale for six. Continue this pattern, focusing on your breath and finding a rhythm that works for you.

As we return to a longer exhale once more, the idea is to take in a similar depth of breath on each inhale and gently control the outflow of your breath, so it takes a little more time to exhale the same amount of air.

Empty your lungs and inhale for one, two, three, four, and exhale for eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one. Inhale for four and exhale for eight. Find a rhythm that works for you, inhaling naturally and making your exhales longer without strain.

Now, relax any sense of controlling your breath as you allow your inhales and exhales to shape themselves. Take a few moments to notice how you feel.

When tragedy strikes or the unexpected throws us off balance, it can shake us to the core. However, through our meditation practice, we can find solace and refuge in the calm space we've cultivated. In moments of being overwhelmed, the mindfulness tools we've developed can serve as a reassuring balm that carries us through difficulties.

As we lengthen our exhale and consciously relax our bodies, we can connect to the present moment, feeling our emotions without letting them take over. The inner calm we've cultivated helps us hold the chaos without getting lost in it.

Not only does our practice build emotional and mental capacity for hardship, but it also has a deep and lasting effect on our physiology. It increases our energy, lowers our blood pressure, and strengthens our immune system. By creating a stronger, calmer, and healthier body, we are growing our ability to handle challenging situations.

Our meditation practice is like building an inner sanctuary that we can find refuge in whenever we need to. Take a couple of deep breaths, calling yourself back into the space around you. When you are ready, gently open your eyes, enjoy the rest of your day, and we'll see you back here soon.

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