I have already done a much more expansive write up about breathing, which you can find here. It talks about how to breathe properly and the consequences of breathing incorrectly.
This is a much shorter blog to give you some insight to some techniques which you can use.
Breathing right (a quick recap)
Meditative breathing 3-pause-5-pause
This is a nice and easy technique that's great for relaxing the body and calming the mind.
3 second inhale - pause - 5 second exhale - pause
The pause is about 1-2 seconds.
The meditation part
Sit or lie comfortably.
Focus on getting into the rhythm, then once that is going try paying attention to your body and the sounds around you. Feel the contact of the floor or chair on your body. Notice how gravity gently nestles you into the floor or chair. Any sounds that are around you, don't try naming them or judging them, just notice them. There are no proper or improper sounds; it's all just sound.
If you have discomfort and pain, don't resist it. Just notice it. Focus on the rhythm of your breath. See if you can let gravity take hold of you even more on every out breath. Notice how the discomfort and pain doesn't actually harm you. It's just a sensation. Annoying for sure, but it's just a sensation. Do not clench, do not resist...just let it be.
Thoughts will come. Let them. They're just echoes of the mind. Notice them like you notice the sounds. Say to yourself: "ah, thinking," and return the breath. You will probably have to do this a bit at first. That's ok, you can't still the mind no more than you still the ocean with a rolling pin. Just notice it and return to the breath.
Square breathing 4-4-4-4
This is an easy to remember exercise for when you need to get your breath in sync and calm down. Particularly good if you're having a panic attack, your mind is racing or you just feel jittery.
Inhale for 4 - Hold for 4 - Exhale for 4 - Hold for 4
Deep relaxation 4-7-8
For deep relaxation of course. Great when you're trying to nod off to sleep.
Inhale for 4 - Hold for 7 - Exhale for 8
For some having a steady out breath is difficult. Reduce the hold to 5 seconds and exhale to 6.
Breathing is totally under-rated. Try these techniques for yourself and notice the difference to your mood, body and daily life.
Chris is a fully trained massage therapist, registered with Massage New Zealand.
He has two diplomas in therapeutic and clinical massage therapy and a certificate in relaxation.
Chris works from the historical Orewa House on the Hibiscus Coast and with the team at Lifestyles NMT in New Lynn, Auckland.