Does worry, saddness, or anxiety take away from the life you want to experience? Are you stuck in past and future mode? Always thinking about what happened, what you could have done differently? Disappointed about how something turned out? Or perhaps you are always in future mode. Worrying about what is coming. Will I be able to handle it? I’ll be happy when… These types of thought habits can suck the vitality out of our present, our now. But there are simple, easy methods, super powers really, for moving beyond these habits.
The most beneficial tactic, according to my clients over the past 11 years, is one I call 4-Part Breathing. With this style of relaxing breathwork, you can begin calming yourself mentally and physiologically within a little as 60 seconds. You can practice 4-Part Breathing anytime, anywhere and nobody knows you are doing it. Now that’s a super power!
When you are first learning and practicing 4-Part Breathing, you will want to find a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted. This is just until you get the hang of it. Then you’ll be able to do it anywhere on command. Let’s try it out.
Sitting in a comfortable position with your eyes closed, take a few nice deep breaths through your nostrils. Exhale completely. You may feel drawn to sigh or yawn. Let your body do what it wants to do. These are energetic releases and they are awesome for balancing your energies.
With your next inhalation, count calmly to 4. Then stop the breath very gently and count again to 4. Exhale for 4. Stop the breath for 4 counts. This is one cycle. The speed of the 4-count is yours to play with. If you are tense, the count may be fast at first. If you are feeling pretty relaxed, it will be slower. What is most important is that the breathing count is equal and regulated on all four sides of the cycle.
If you feel like you have to inhale before a cycle is complete, quicken the counting. Make the counting work for you so that it is relaxed. Soft throat, relaxed tongue. When you inhale and then hold, think more about if you were drinking from a straw and simply stopped the sucking action to hold the liquid in place. It’s not jumping into a swimming pool! No need to tightly clench your jaw or tighten your throat. Everything about 4-Part Breathing should be relaxed. Let’s try it again with these tips in mind.
With your next inhalation, count calmly to 4. Then stop the breath very gently and count again to 4. Exhale for 4. Stop the breath for 4 counts. As you work into the next breath cycle, here’s where you can make adjustments if you ran out of breath the first time around. The speed of the 4-count is yours to play with. Again, what is most important is is that the breathing count is equal and regulated on all four sides of the cycle. Continue repeating the 4-Part Breathing cycles for two minutes.
Are you feeling calmer? Ideally, you should be. The counting to four, repeatedly, distracts your mind from the stressor thought. The regulated breathing pattern calms you physiologically. It really is a super power! Attempt the practice again for another two minutes. This time as you move through the four calm and even sides of the breath cycles, when it feels comfortable try to stretch the breath. Slow down your breathing ever so slightly, but still even on all four sides, for greater relaxation.
Once you have this practice down and feel comfortable using it, you can move into doing it with your eyes opened. This is when you can begin practicing it anywhere. Anytime you feel a stressor, or anytime your needs are not being met and something gives you Yuck feelings, you can easily launch into 4-Part Breathing.
It might be your commute to work, screaming kids, an annoying relative, or giving a presentation. As soon as you start to feel those negative emotions like anxiety start to creep in, launch into your 4-Part Breathing routine. You might also consider using this practice to start and end your day. When your alarm goes off to begin your day, do two minutes of this practice. Likewise, when you climb into bed to end your day, do this practice until you fall alseep. Just keep stretching the breath more and more and before you know it, you be in sweet slumber.
4-Part Breathing is an amazing tactic that can bring a whole new level of peace into your busy life. Consider turning compassion inward with this easy breathing practice. Before you know it, you’ll be showing friends, family and colleagues that calm is a super power!