Jamie Price is a wellness expert and co-founder of Stop, Breathe & Think, an emotional wellness app that recommends short personalized meditations and activities tuned to your emotions. In the first of a three-part series, Jamie shares breathing techniques you can do anytime to help connect your breath and mind.
Bonus! Jamie is giving you premium access to the app for 1 month – FREE! Details at the end of this post.
THE BEAUTY OF THE BREATH
In striving to be our best selves—to be in good physical shape, eat healthy food, have great relationships, thrive at school or at work— it’s easy to get swept up in the momentum of stress and worry that often comes with pursuing our goals. In the process, we can lose our sense of balance and calm. But coming back to center can be as simple as consciously connecting to your breath.
Your breath is an incredibly versatile tool that can help you generate different sensations and feelings. Have you ever noticed that when you’re nervous you take short shallow breaths? Or when you’re really angry, you hold your breath? On the other hand, you might take a long deep breath whenever you stretch out to relax. The breath is a great gauge of your thoughts and feelings and also has the power to influence how you feel. Breathing mindfully will help to develop focus and attention, calm your nervous system, improve cardiovascular function, energize your mood, and even deepen your connection to your body.
The basic technique is to focus your attention on your breath—the inhale and exhale—with openness and curiosity. Studies* have shown that the ability to focus attention on your breath can actually help you deal with everyday stress, anxiety and emotional ups and downs.
• Take a few deep breaths.
• Notice how your body feels.
• Bring your awareness to any part of your body that feels tense. Relax those muscles.
• Now bring your awareness to your breath.
• Notice where you feel the breath most in your body.
• Settle into a relaxed focus as you follow the sensation of each inhale and exhale.
• With openness and curiosity, notice any sensations, thoughts or feelings that arise.
• Continue to gently redirect your attention back to your breath for as long you’d like.
Breathing in for the same amount of time as you breath out can promote a sense of balance and calm. Notice the tone of your inner dialogue as you practice the even breathing technique. Try to incorporate a kind and warm tone of voice to increase the benefits of this breathing technique.
• Let your breath flow naturally.
• Count the length of your inhale.
• As you continue to breathe, make your inhale the same count as your exhale.
• For example, if you breathe in for a count of four, then breathe out for a count of four.
• Follow a relaxed and slow pace that is natural to you.
The beauty of breathing mindfully is that you can practice it anywhere. There’s no need for special equipment or advanced knowledge. All you need is the air in your lungs, a little intention, and you’re good to go.