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Quick Mindful Breathing

Mindful breathing, is, in essence, just paying attention to your breathing. That's all it is.


But, this can be surprisingly difficult for us because our brains tend to get bombarded by tonnes irrelevant thoughts when we're just trying to pay attention to our breath. That’s why it takes some practice.


Count your breaths

The best way to start is by forcing your attention onto your breath. Start by breathing in and out normally, but counting the breaths. So, breathe in, count 1, and breathe out, 2. In, 3, out, 4. And just count to 10. Once you get to 10, start from the beginning, start back at 1.


Calm your body with longer out-breaths

You can also adjust your breathing pattern in a way that helps to reduce anxiety and calm our bodies. To do that you just need to ensure that your out-breath is longer than your in-breath. Try breathing in to the count of five and breathe out to the count of seven. Always making sure that that out-breath is longer. You might want to play around with the counts, that might feel slightly too long and you might need to go four and six, or three and five. But always make sure that the out-breath is longer. The ways this works is by signalling to our bodies that they can calm. If you take a really deep breath in, it is signalling to your body that it needs to get ready for something, to gear up. We want to do the opposite and so pushing more breath out lets it know it can relax.


How to breathe

Continue counting your breaths for a few minutes, up to five minutes and this will help to focus your mind. After that, try to just let go of the counting. Allow your body to return to its normal breathing pattern and just notice it. It's really as simple as that (simple, but not necessarily easy). But just sit and just notice your breathing; where is it coming from? A panicked breath comes from the chest, a calm breath comes from your diaphragm or your tummy. You should be able to feel your tummy moving up and down when you breathe. Try putting a hand over your stomach… when you breathe in, you should feel your tummy inflate/rise. And when you breathe out, it should fall. Sometimes we suck our tummies in when we breathe in – that is a panicked breath. Your tummy should push out when you breathe in.


You might find that when you’re trying mindful breathing that you get inundated with lots of different thoughts about just the most random things or things to do, or things you are reflecting on. Don't be annoyed with yourself if that happens. Just notice that your attention has wandered and bring it back to your breath. Try to do it for about 10 minutes. That's all you need to do. And that just gives you a slice of peace during your day, a slice of now. There is very little that can come into your mind during that time that cannot wait for 10 minutes. And that's the idea; it's proving to yourself that you do not have to engage with the thoughts that enter your head. This is about creating some space and focusing your attention on something that is happening now.

So just give it a go! It will be easier some days than others. If you're particularly stressed or feeling overwhelmed, it will be harder, but it will potentially have a bigger impact. And stick with it; it will generally get easier over time.

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