The breath is actually one of the few bodily systems that we have direct control of. When you become aware of your breathing, which usually happens automatically, you can start to slow it down. When you slow your breath down in a relaxed and focused manner you are in fact impacting on another system in your body; your nervous system.
For most of us our nervous systems are on high alert a lot of the time. When trying to catch that train on time or finishing off a piece of work by a deadline, you can be sure your nervous system is in the fight or flight mode. So whilst having that intensity turned up can be just what is needed to do what you have to do, what we don’t want is for it to remain at that level. Remaining on high alert is not good for your sense of wellbeing and your health.
We want to make sure that after we’ve got that train, or got that piece of work done our nervous system settles down again. So when you notice you are still holding that tension maybe your shoulders are tense or you are sharp when interacting with another person here’s a quick one-minute breathing technique that you can do to start the calming process.
Simply watch your breath slowly going in and slowly going out for one minute. The first time you do this, try timing yourself for one minute and count incrementally every time you reach the end of the out breath. Note the number you got up to when the minute is up. This allows you to easily do the minute breathing technique without having to time yourself. The process of counting also helps you to stay focused on the breathing technique itself. Practice breathing slowly in and out until you get to that number equal to one minute, every time you want to calm yourself. I learnt this technique from the Mindfulness Summit.
Notice whether this calms you down or not. Has it helped you to re-group and re-balance your thoughts? You may have to do it for longer to release all tension.
We can all find one minute in the day to stop and pay attention to our breath. You can do it several times throughout the day. Notice if it’s helping you to feel calmer and clearer and brings about a feeling of wellbeing.