How to Breathe with Awareness
Have you ever been so stressed that you felt short of breath? Then you might have heard about a number of breathing techniques that calm the nervous system, allowing us to breathe better. Same as a vast number of therapeutical methods, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) suggests a few easily accessible breathing techniques that can help us in managing depression, anxiety and even panic attacks.
By cultivating a better breathing pattern as part of our daily routine, we can start to shift the way we feel right now, and eventually shift the way we perceive reality and our world. Building a better breathing awareness and breathing manipulation can help us to reach a state of calmness even in the hardest times of our lives.
All that said, how do we practice a more mindful breathing? One effective way is through first breathing while noticing how the body responds to each inhale and each exhale. The purpose of this practice is to relax the nervous system by bringing more oxygen into the body’s vital organs, engaging organs that normally are not involved in breathing, like the diaphragm, and this creates a sense of control over the mind.
ACT Breathing – Step-by-step:
- Breathe out all the air you might have in the belly, the diaphragm and the lungs
- Now breathe in as slowly as possible and breathe out
- Focus on what is happening in the body as you breathe – notice the sensations
- Pause every moment between an in-breath and out-breathe
- Let any thoughts come and go as they please without trying to fight this
- Acknowledge any thoughts, then let them go, as you keep maintaining your attention to your breathing
Take 10 deep slow breaths.
As you breathe in, notice:
- The tummy pushes inward
- Chest rising
- Shoulders lifting
- Lungs expanding
- Breaths insert the nostril
As you breathe out, notice:
- The tummy pushes outward
- Chest descending
- Shoulders dropping
- Lungs squeezing
- Breath leaves the nostril
(Based on the 10 deep breaths exercise in the Happiness Trap book by Russ Harris)