When we are seeking calm, being mindful of our breath offers us the simplest, most powerful way to bring presence and balance to our life.
Mindfulness involves being fully alive, present, and connected to each moment. The practice of mindfulness begins with the breath, allowing us to relax into our being and be fully attentive to the present.
By removing the layers of distraction created by our mind, our body and emotions, thinking and worrying about the future or the past, we can begin to overcome stress, fear and reactivity and gain sanity, wisdom and inner peace.
One of the easiest and most effective breath techniques I use with my clients, is the 4-7-8 Breathing Exercise as outlined by Dr Andrew Weil, who says “It is utterly simple, takes almost no time, requires no equipment and can be done anywhere.”
4-7-8 Breathing Exercise
- Sit upright with your back straight
- Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue behind your upper front teeth and let it remain there throughout the exercise
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound
- Close your mouth and quietly inhale through your nose to a mental count of 4
- Hold your breath for a mental count of 7
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making the whoosh sound to a mental count of 8
- Repeat this cycle 3 more times for a total of 4 breaths
- Try to do this 2 – 3 x a day to begin
As this is a powerful technique, it is recommended, for the first month, to not do more than 4 breaths for any one set.
Dr. Weil has additional breathing exercises on his site: http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART00521/three-breathing-exercises.html