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MeditationBreathe Through Tension

Breathe Through Tension

When we’re carrying stress or tension, our breath can help us. Join Jamila for a breathwork meditation, creating space for negative emotions and releasing them with compassion.

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Better mental health starts with Headspace

As much as I'd like to believe that I have mastered the art of inner peace, I live in the modern world, and that's not always my reality. Yes, inner peace and ease is always the goal, but sometimes life throws me off center and I find myself in full body resistance, shoulders tight, teeth clenched, heart constricted. In these moments, the wisest and kindest thing I and all of us can do is breathe. Breath is a powerful tool that helps us regulate our nervous system, train our awareness and cultivate inner peace. If we can notice when we are resisting, if we can practice being present enough to be aware that we're holding tension in our minds or bodies, then we can begin to release it. Awareness is foundational for empowered choice. Today, we're going to practice noticing and releasing tension. Tension can be physical or emotional, any area in your body or life that you feel a sense of being not fully at ease. So get yourself in a comfortable position and close your eyes or simply lower your gaze. Start to deepen your inhales and exhales, noticing the flow of air moving in and out of your body. As you breathe, call to mind any sources of tension in your life, whether they be in your relationships, at work, in politics and society at large, anything that feels heavy, stuck, tight or difficult to hold. (silence) Acknowledge whatever feelings and sensations are arising as you call this to mind. (silence) Breathe, seeing if you can be with this experience without feeling the need to change it. (silence) Use your breath as an anchor. Your breath keeps you steady and still. (silence) Not letting yourself fully experience emotions keeps them trapped in the body. Avoidance, shutting down, denial and distractions are quick fixes, but, over time, they create emotional and physical distress. Breathing with difficult emotions gives them space to exist and when you give them space, they become a temporary visitor. They come for a while, often at the worst times, but they always go again. (silence) As you breathe, see if you can look at these difficult and painful emotions as teachers. See if you can honor them by being with them, naming them and listening with your body and your heart to what they are saying. In the face of emotions like anger, frustration, sadness, ask, "What are you here to show me?" (silence) "What desire or need is not being met?" (silence) "What value is not being honored?" (silence) "What does this emotion motivate me to do?" (silence) Listen to whatever comes up and breathe. (silence) Now that you've held space for tension, let's begin to release it. Breathe and imagine your body being drained like a glass of water, slowly and steadily. With each breath, the tension leaves your body. (silence) With each breath, you feel lighter and more grounded. (silence) Breath allows us to connect with our agency in the midst...


Duration12 min

About your teachers

  • A former Buddhist monk, Andy has guided people in meditation and mindfulness for 20 years. In his mission to make these practices accessible to all, he co-created the Headspace app in 2010.

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  • Eve is a mindfulness teacher, overseeing Headspace’s meditation curriculum. She is passionate about sharing meditation to help others feel less stressed and experience more compassion in their lives.

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  • As a meditation teacher, Dora encourages others to live, breathe, and be with the fullness of their experiences. She loves meditation’s power to create community and bring clarity to people’s minds.

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  • Kessonga has been an acupuncturists, therapist, and meditation teacher, working to bring mindfulness to the diverse populations of the world.

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  • Rosie Acosta has studied yoga and mindfulness for more than 20 years and taught for over a decade. Rosie’s mission is to help others overcome adversity and experience radical love.

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