Rest & Reset: The Gift of Presence
The gift of the present: how to use your breath to increase presence
Our breath is a guiding force for bringing us back to the here and now easily and for calming the body’s nervous system, having a knock on effect on slowing the pace of our minds.
1. Get some breathing space:
Take 3-minute conscious breathing breaks, 2-3 times a day during busy, stressful periods. Stop what you are doing, and simply bring your attention towards your breath. It will calm the emotional limbic centre in the brain, relax and oxygenate the body and help clarify your thoughts.
2. Feel your breathing:
Place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly, and feel your breath moving into and out of your body. Notice the natural rhythm and become aware of the coolness of the breath on inhalation and the warmth of the breath on the exhalation.
3. Breathe slowly and deeply:
When we’re stressed, we have a tendency to breathe quickly and shallowly, without expanding the lungs, belly or diaphragm. To breathe more fully try the following:
- Start by breathing normally, then every few breaths, inhale through your nose slowly to a count of five. Pause and hold your breath for a count of 3 then breathe out slowly, blowing out the air through your mouth. When you’ve exhaled completely, take 2 breaths in a normal rhythm and repeat the cycle.
- When you inhale, fill the breath from the lower belly, all the way up through the chest, expanding the lungs, drawing the breath to the throat and up to the nose.
- Imagine filling a bucket of water with fresh, clean water as you inhale, and as you exhale, visualise the water escaping through a plug in the bottom the bucket - emptying from the throat, all the way down to the belly.
- Favour a smooth, effortless flow of breath into and out of the body- never force or hold the breath to discomfort.
And remember in times of stress and overwhelm:
“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor” - Thich Nhat Han