Start the week off well with this simple mindful breathing exercise that will help you develop a sense of calm and focus. The beauty of mindful breathing is that you can practice it anywhere and anytime, without special equipment or advanced knowledge. All you need is the air in your lungs, a little intention, and you’re good to go.
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 downs1.
Why not start now?
- Whether you are standing or sitting, become aware of your posture, and straighten your spine so that you feel alert and relaxed, but not rigid.
- Take a few deep breaths.
- Notice how your body feels.
- Bring your awareness to any part of your body that feels tense, and relax those muscles.
- Now bring your awareness back 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.
- When you notice that your mind has wandered (which it will, often!), simply acknowledge the sensations, thoughts or feelings that arise with open curiosity, and then let them go.
- Continue to gently redirect your attention back to your breath for as long you’d like.
Mindful breathing can be done while sitting in traffic, waiting in line, or during your exercise routine—you don’t have to be sitting on a cushion. Since our minds tend to wander, it can help to follow a guided audio track as you get familiar with the technique. Try this short, 5 minute mindful breathing track by Stop, Breathe & Think, or download the app to access mindful breathing activities anytime, anywhere.
- Arch, J. J., & Craske, M. G. (2006). Mechanisms of mindfulness: Emotion regulation following a focused breathing induction. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 44(12), 1849-1858.Todd B. Kashdan, Gitendra Uswatte, and Terri Julian. Gratitude and hedonic and eudaimonic well-being in Vietnam war veterans. 2005.