by Dr. Carol Renaud Gaffney
If you have read about and practiced breathing,
you already know about the relaxing properties
and the healthfulness of breathing deeply and
completely. Although there are many benefits of
putting time aside for meditation or relaxation,
intentional breathing can be used for a
mini-break or mini-relaxation.
When is a good time to practice intentional
breathing? Any time that you have a moment
Take a breath deep into your lungs and be aware
of the breath. Be aware of the air entering your
body. Now breathe out fully letting your
abdomen drop as your lungs empty.
Breathe in, allowing your abdomen to rise, then
notice your lungs filling form the bottom up until
your chest is expanded and full. Hold the breath
at the top. Hold the breath for a moment before
releasing it. Hold the breath for the moment
in the same way the wave holds for the moment
on shore before returning to the sea. Let your
breath leave your body and become aware that
your lungs are deflating.
Again, breathe in starting with the breath entering
and filling the bottom of our lungs first, your
abdomen rises, your lungs fill from the bottom
up and your chest expands. Be aware of the turn
from the inbreath to the outbreath. Continue for
as many breaths and as long as you like.
There are many ways of using the breath —
a deep one time cleansing breath can work
whenever you want it. Breathe out completely,
almost pushing the breath out and getting as much
out as possible. When you think you are completely
done, push out with 3 or 4 more short breaths,
then let yourself inhale spontaneously.
Let your lungs fill with clean air. Notice the
sounds, the feelings, the smell and the taste
Another way of using breath for relaxation is
a 10 to 1 or a 5 to 1 countdown.
Breathing naturally or abdominally, count backwards
to the number one, saying the numbers to yourself
on the outbreath. Try this now starting with 5.
Go ahead and breathe in. As you breathe
out, say "5".
Breathe in again… and as you breathe
out say "4". Breathe in again…and
as you breathe out say "3".
Breathe in…and out…"2"…Breathe
If you find your mind wandering (which usually
happens when you are stressed), simply return
your attention to your outbreath and pick up with
whatever number you would like and continue to
count backwards to one.
There are numerous times you can use a mini-relaxation:
in the grocery line or the bank line; at a red
light or in traffic; or waiting for the kids to
come in. You can take advatage of this time to
treat yourself rather than complaining about being
stuck or wasting time.
Take a moment at the beginning of a meeting or
when you are put on hold on the telephone. Breathe
intentionally. Watch or count breath. This can
be done any time you think of it. You come
into the moment when you are aware of breath.
This is the process and experience of life.