Three mindful breaths

Three Mindful Breaths

I think it’s true to say that we all spend a significant amount of our time each day waiting, whether it’s at the end of a phone or online, and I don’t know about you, but in spite of daily and repeated exposure, I still find it difficult to accept the experience of waiting with good grace. In fact, I usually distract myself by finding something else to do to pass the time, and that something else is usually my laptop or phone…. whichever one isn’t directly involved in the waiting process. I know instinctively this is not really being productive, but if I am distracted I believe I am less likely to feel the annoyance that waiting can bring….

One website changed that all for me. As I logged on to begin my meditation practice I was gently directed to take three mindful breaths whilst waiting. Surprised, I did so only to find by the time the app and I were both ready I was feeling so much calmer.

To be honest, the app was ready before I was, as I realised that I wasn’t completely certain what three mindful breaths might look, or rather, feel, like. A quick online search brought clarity. Whilst realising the need to focus on my breathing I had assumed that a bigger breath, (one that emulated the ones we use to do as children when stethoscopes were involved), was what was needed. In fact, the important feature turned out to be where the breath goes, i.e. a deep breath going deeply inside, all the way down to your belly, before being slowly released through your nose.

Elusively simple, three mindful breaths helps us to redirect our attention; away from the busyness that can lead us into unproductive multi-tasking or automatic distraction routines that steal both our time and our cognitive energy.

As we begin to turn our focus inwards, acknowledging our present breath without judgement, accepting it as it is, shallow or deep, fast or slow, we show acceptance and kindness towards ourselves. As we do so, we find release from self-judgement and self-criticism.

The act of taking three mindful breaths requires you to purposefully change your rate of breathing, making it slower and deeper, whilst breathing through the nose and focusing on the sensations this experience brings. This sends a message to the amygdala, which controls our stress response, that the perceived danger, (e.g. the imminent interview, the many priorities competing for your attention), has passed. Physical stress responses within your body e.g. elevated heartbeat, dry mouth, fast, shallow breathing patterns), beginning to subside.

This is complemented by a change in our way of thinking, within the pre-frontal cortex. Usually, the modus operandi is one of sense making through personal stories, based on our past experience, our present situation and our hopes and fears for the future. It can be a valuable tool, in supporting us to make rational, experience-based decisions but can also result in faulty perceptions and emotion based thinking that can be both restricting and anxiety provoking. (How many of us have longed, on occasion,  to “turn off the noise in our heads ?”) Mindful breathing shifts our perspective from the stories we tell ourselves, to the present; to what is happening here and now. It is a grounding and calming experience.

In summary, mindful breathing requires us to be still and shift our focus to our breath. As we take three, slow, deep “belly” breaths, our body’s stress responses are calmed and restoration begins.

Are you in need of restoration ? Hypnotherapy can help you manage the situations that are causing you stress by helping you to change your mindset. Through hypnosis, you can learn new, more effective ways to perceive and respond to situations, enabling you to enjoy life more fully, once more. Contact me now for your free initial consultation.