Using our breath can be a helpful way of settling our mind and body when we are experiencing negative emotions such as anxiety, anger, depression or general stress. It can help to create a more secure and grounded feeling and reduce the impact of the body’s natural fight or flight reflex. By deliberately using our breath, we are helping our mind to receive the message that we are safe.
Soothing rhythm breathing is a breathing exercise designed to soothe body and mind. There are other breathing exercises where you can just allow the breath to be as it is, but this technique is about discovering a breathing rhythm that is supportive and calming for you. The counting element can help to focus your mind on your breath.
The rate and rhythm of breath which you find soothing may vary from the count here, so please feel free to adjust your counting if need be. Your natural soothing rhythm may even vary from day to day, so initially it is worth taking a little time to find your rhythm before settling into a pattern which feels soothing and natural for you. There’s no rush to find the right pace; just keep your in and out breaths of equal length, with a brief pause between each.
You can experiment with the sequence below until you find the rate which feels most beneficial for you. There’s absolutely no pressure to do this right or get it right first time, just set aside a few minutes a day to practice and you will soon get the hang of it.
As with other mindfulness based practices, if you find your mind wandering off onto other concerns, that’s okay, just bring your attention back to your counting and your breath.
- First sit in a way that you feel supported, yet alert, in an upright posture with feet flat on the floor, and head facing forward.
- To begin with, slowly take a steady and long in-breath for a count of four.
- Pause there for a moment…
- Then gradually release the breath for a count of four, keeping it steady, long and slow.
- Repeat this count for three minutes.
As with any breathing exercise, these are best practised in a quiet relatively calm environment to begin with, and as you become used to doing them, you will be able to use them while going about your day when you feel the need to give yourself some time to reset.
If you would like to try a different mindful breathing technique, you can go here to find a Beginners Mindfulness of Breath exercise.
Ali Binns is a CBT therapist in Bath. She regularly teaches clients to use these simple breathing techniques as part of their general care plans. These exercises help clients to work with their emotions in a more helpful way.