What if I offered you a simple technique, that’s free, that increases your mental clarity, balances your left and right brain, helps you feel calm in stressful situations and will help you cope with almost any stressor you’re facing? That simple technique is:
It’s so simple and yet every day I meet people who are not breathing….ok, they’re breathing, but their breath is so shallow that their chest is barely moving, and it’s not restorative breathing, not the deep kind of breathing that frees the breath, clears the mind, and communicates to the body that it’s ok to let go and relax.
The way we breathe lets us know whether or not we’re feeling stressed. When we’re upset and tense, our breath becomes shallow and even blocked and we stop breathing.
And since we don’t think about breathing, we often don’t notice when, under stress, how breath-less we become. So, when we’re stressed, we don’t breathe deeply enough, our bodies tense up, we can’t think clearly, and then our breathing gets worse…creating a vicious cycle. (This is where I would remind you what prolonged stress does to your mind and body, but that’s for another post.)
Here’s the good news. We can easily break this cycle by stopping and taking a few slow, deep breaths. In almost every situation, taking a few deep breaths, consciously, will relax body and mind. And even though you may find it difficult to accept at first, breathing properly (deeply) is one of the most profoundly life-changing skills you can learn.
The Calming Breath is a quick and simple breathing exercise. The power in this particular technique lies in counting out an extended exhalation which triggers the relaxation response and helps to slow your heart rate. Here’s how to do it:
Take a deep breath in for the count of four (count one thousand, two thousand, three thousand, four to set a slow and steady pace).
Then hold your breath for the count of two…now release your breath slowly through slightly pursed lips for the count of eight.
Repeat until you feel calmer.
The calming breath is also useful if you feel angry or irritated, it can quickly calm and cool your mind and help you gain a sense of clarity and control.
Start your healing
Glenda L. Rice, MA, LPC
Psychotherapy and Consultation