Mindful Breathing to Reduce Stress

One of the primary reasons to practice mindfulness is to build up our ability to concentrate. Breathing is a natural and effective tool in preventing scattered or fractured thinking. Breathing is a way to connect your body to your thoughts and, when your mind becomes scattered is a way to refocus.

The following is a breathing exercise. Focus on bringing our awareness to our breathing. Learning to focus on your breath can help to anchor you in the present moment. Focusing in breathing also generally has a calming effect.

You will begin the exercise by just tuning in to the feeling of your breath coming in and out of your body. Just focus on breathing and knowing your breathing. Today’s exercise will be an exercise on counting your breath.
1. get settled in a comfortable position
2. focus attention on breath
3. inhale, filling lungs
4. exhale-count on each exhale from one to ten. For example: Inhale, Exhale, “one,” Inhale, exhale, “two” inhale, exhale “three” up to ten.
5. When you reach 10 start over at 1
6. if you lose count at any time, start over at 1

The first few times you do breathing exercises can feel awkward. Your mind may wander from your breathing or you may have judgments about your ability to stay focused. It is normal to feel that way. If you do feel awkward, just notice that feeling, and let it pass. If you get fidgety, just notice the urge to fidget and let it pass. If you lose count or find you are distracted by sounds, gently bring your mind back to your breath and begin counting at one. Trust in this moment and allow it to unfold without analyzing, judging or doubting it.

Thich Nhat Hahn. The Miracle of Mindfulness: A Manual on Meditation.

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