How’s your breathing right now? Is it shallow and choppy or deep and velvety?
How often do you pay attention to the quality and cadence of your breathing?
We have to breathe to survive, it is the first thing we do when we enter the world. We often forget or fail to appreciate how powerful our breath is. It can anchor us into the present moment. It can help us slow down and savor a beautiful sunset. It’s the catalyst for a strong run or a beast of a workout. We have the ability to control our breath with our mind, even under stressful conditions. Our breath is our life preserver, the ultimate sustenance. It grounds us, centers us, unites us.
So how can we use it to our advantage? Slow. It. Down.
Here are a few steps to get you started.
Step 1: Notice your breath without any judgement. Just take it in.
Step 2: Slowly inhale through your nose at a 4-count, and breathe deep into your belly. Focus on using our diaphragm, gently expand your ribs while softening the muscles in our jaw, shoulders and neck.
Step 3: Hold your inhale for a count of 4.
Step 4: Slowly exhale out of your mouth at a 4-count, and feel your belly muscles gently contract (pull your naval to your spine). Keep your shoulders relaxed.
Step 5: Maintain a focus on your breath. Let your thoughts come and go; detach from them and allow them to pass like clouds in the sky.
Step 6: Repeat this 10 times. As you become more comfortable with this, add more rounds (work your way up to 20 or 30) and bring your 4 count up to a 6 count.
You can do this while you’re driving, right when you wake up, while you’re meditating or working at your desk. The possibilities are endless. Just be mindful of your breath and let the rest go.