Really? Having recently fallen off my bike, in my driveway, questions arose as to where my mind was. Planning the weekend perhaps? The grocery list? To grill dinner or go out to eat? One thing was evident, I was not paying attention to what I was doing on my bike. At least not until I hit the cement. My mind was not in the present moment.

Sometimes we need a wake-up call to remind us to stop being so wrapped up in what’s coming next and just focus on and enjoy the present moment. Meditation is a wonderful tool and practice that can help you stay grounded in the present. One way to be present is to concentrate on your breath.

Take a few moments right now, to just close your eyes (but finish reading the instructions first!) and pay close attention to what you are feeling as your breath enters and exits your body. Are you breathing from your chest, does the breath feel “high” or close to your throat? Or are you able to feel the breath all the way down into your stomach? Can you feel the coolness of the air entering your nostrils? And the warm air leaving them?

Through the regular practice of meditation, a person can learn how to breathe properly. It also helps with being able to call on yourself to calm down more readily since your body is familiar with those calm feelings. This can help immensely in stressful situations where it is very common to hold one’s breath or breathe very shallow. Have you ever been nervous and taken a couple deep breaths to calm yourself? Anyone who has spoken in front of a group can probably remember being nervous and having tight chest or shaky voice.

There is something to this advice. According the The Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide website, deep breathing can help to lower and even stabilize blood pressure as well as slow the heartbeat. Committing to even just 5 to 10 minutes a day of deep breathing can help you feel more relaxed and less stressed.

Meditation allows you to concentrate on your breathing. A common practice when meditating and you notice you’ve started thinking about something, is concentrating on your breath to bring you back to centeredness and a feeling of being grounded. Breathing exercises help you to concentrate on what is happening here and now, bringing you into the present moment.

As you become more familiar with using your breath to center yourself in meditation, there comes a point when you will feel comfortable incorporating this into your daily life. When experiencing stress, frustration, or anger, you can take a few deep breaths and really “feel” your breath coming into as well as leaving your body. This triggers your mind to be in the present, which can help you adjust your attitude with the current situation.

Meditation offers many lessons in its practice that have enormous benefits in daily life. Concepts such as compassion, acceptance, gratitude, being present, and kindness are wonderful to experience in meditation. There are many different styles of meditation you can learn to enhance your ability to feel these emotions. One common benefit many people feel, is when these abilities translate into their daily life to help them be, in general, more at ease.

The ancient, tried and true practice of meditation has helped people around the world commit to themselves. It also helps people to become comfortable spending time alone, in silence. You may find that as your meditation practice grows and matures, you crave the solitude and peace of mind brought by meditation. Your inward journey may just be starting, but the outward results you’ll experience could be amazing!

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