Let’s Get Intimate: How to “breathe the change you want to see” With Jamie Price & Sasza Lohrey

Breathe the change you want to see. Your breath is a great barometer of how you are feeling, and you can actually use your breath to influence how you feel. So if you want to feel more self-love, working with the breath is a great place to start. “Even Breathing” is a technique that emphasises […]

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.

Breathe the change you want to see. Your breath is a great barometer of how you are feeling, and you can actually use your breath to influence how you feel. So if you want to feel more self-love, working with the breath is a great place to start. “Even Breathing” is a technique that emphasises an attitude of kindness and understanding with each inhale and exhale.

As a part of my series about “Connecting With Yourself To Live With Better Relationships” I had the pleasure to interview Jamie Price. Jamie has spent the last 18 years developing mindfulness and meditation curriculum and leading workshops for inner city kids and young adults. She created the original Stop, Breathe & Think app for all ages and Stop, Breathe & Think Kids, for ages 5–10. In the largest study of a meditation app ever, Stop, Breathe & Think users showed a 46% decrease in feelings of anxiety. Stop, Breathe & Think has won 2 People’s Voice Webby Awards for Best Health App, and has been featured on the Today Show, Cosmopolitan Magazine and Parent Magazine, to name just a few.

Thank you so much for joining us! Let’s Get Intimate! I’d love to begin by asking you to give us the backstory as to what brought you to this specific career path.

I was suffering from physical symptoms due to extreme stress, and my life changed forever when I was introduced to a mindfulness practice. I found ways to curb the anxiety by relating to myself and other people with more kindness and patience, qualities that you could actually cultivate through meditation. It helped so much that I wanted to share what I had learned by creating tools to help others overcome their mental and emotional difficulties.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you hope that they might help people along their path to self-understanding or a better sense of wellbeing in their relationships?

I am! As part of our Premium Membership, we are introducing a whole new way to focus on specific areas of your mental health, called Journeys. They are expert-driven programs, offering daily exercises and nuggets of knowledge to help tackle the issues that challenge people most. We’re starting with stress and anxiety, of course, which are the most selected emotions in our app. The Curb Your Stress and Worry Journey is 30+ days of tailored activities delivered to your in-app feed.

It can be so difficult to connect with people in a genuine way when you feel stressed out or anxious, whether it be in a relationship to a close friend, a co-worker, romantic partner, a family member and even with yourself. Integrating accessible practices that can help you get a handle on it can improve your outlook and open the door to more positive relationships.

Do you have a personal story that you can share with our readers about your struggles or successes along your journey of self-understanding and self-love? Was there ever a tipping point that triggered a change regarding your feelings of self acceptance?

I came from a very supportive family, but with that also came very strong opinions about what I should do with my life. I spent many years trying to fulfill those expectations. The problem was, even though I seemed to have everything I could want from a material perspective, I just wasn’t happy. I always felt like something was wrong with me. I was working at an investment bank in NYC, completely stressed out and suffering physically and emotionally. It finally dawned on me that at the end of my life, I would be the one either regretting or rejoicing in my life choices, no one else. From that moment forward, I decided to take full responsibility for myself and embrace who I really was, not what other people wanted me to be.

According to a recent study cited in Cosmopolitan, in the US, only about 28 percent of men and 26 percent of women are “very satisfied with their appearance.” Could you talk about what some of the causes might be, as well as the consequences?

I think it has something to do with the historical lack of diversity and variety of shapes and sizes represented in mainstream fashion, TV and movies. It’s getting better, but there are still predominant images that we are supposed to conform to that most people just don’t. It’s made worse by scrolling through perfectly curated Instagram accounts, for example, and making the mistake of believing that to be the whole picture. It fuels that harsh inner voice that is constantly saying that we’re not measuring up. People are actually starting to be more vulnerable and honest about their struggles. That’s a great thing! If we can recognize that we are basically all in the same boat, we’ll be less hard on ourselves.

As cheesy as it might sound to truly understand and “love yourself,” can you share with our readers a few reasons why it’s so important?

Sometimes it’s more obvious that treating others with loving kindness and compassion is a good thing, but it’s not as obvious that treating yourself with the same care and attention is just as important. Imagine how different your daily life would be if you were patient, used kind and gentle language when you talked to yourself, and made time to actively soothe yourself when things went wrong. If you can do that, it will help you feel less stressed and more resilient. Research shows that this kind of self-love and compassion is linked to reducing the many ways you might feel distress, like anxiety, depression or shame, and can increase many of the ways you can feel well-being, like optimism, connectedness and self-confidence. That foundation of confidence, resilience and optimism will help to create much better relationships.

Why do you think people stay in mediocre relationships? What advice would you give to our readers regarding this?

It can be about convenience, laziness, self-doubt or all of the above. The most important advice I can give is to recognize that you are perfectly fine, just as you are. It is actually true, not just something people say to make you feel better. Happiness is a frame of mind that you create for yourself. No one else can do it for you. If you can embrace your life as an adventure, full of ups and downs and ultimately self-discovery, you won’t have time for mediocre relationships.

When I talk about self-love and understanding I don’t necessarily mean blindly loving and accepting ourselves the way we are. Many times self-understanding requires us to reflect and ask ourselves the tough questions, to realize perhaps where we need to make changes in ourselves to be better not only for ourselves but our relationships. What are some of those tough questions that will cut through the safe space of comfort we like to maintain, that our readers might want to ask themselves? Can you share an example of a time that you had to reflect and realize how you needed to make changes?

When it comes to difficulty in relationships, it’s so easy to point the finger at the other person when things aren’t the way you want them to be. It’s actually a strong habit of mine, and I tend to get impatient and judgmental. I was expressing my frustration at my husband one day, and I could see my daughter (who was not even 2 years old) shutting down. I felt terrible — it was a real wake-up call. I took that opportunity for some deep reflection: Has this been a pattern of mine in past relationships? How is it affecting my husband, my daughter and me? Is it creating that feeling of a joyful home that I want so much to offer my daughter as she grows up? From that moment forward, I was resolute in not allowing myself to be carried away by that aggressive, frustrated energy when it arose, but to allow it to settle and choose kindness instead.

So many don’t really know how to be alone, or are afraid of it. How important is it for us to have, and practice, that capacity to truly be with ourselves and be alone (literally or metaphorically)?

I think it’s very difficult to feel solid and grounded unless you are at peace with being alone. Otherwise, you are basically at the mercy of other people’s time and attention and ultimately their validation — things you really don’t have much control over. There was a time where being alone would make me feel anxious. There would be this nagging feeling that something was wrong with me and that I was missing out on something. Setting aside time for a daily meditation practice changed everything. I started with a few minutes and grew from there. It gives you the time to just be still. All those emotions that can stir you up and make it difficult to be alone settle naturally.

How does achieving a certain level of self-understanding and self-love then affect your ability to connect with and deepen your relationships with others?

It helps build empathy, which is the ability to “feel with” another person. When you are in tune with yourself, it’s easier to recognize what other people might be experiencing and relate to it personally. That absolutely will deepen your relationships.

In your experience, what should a) individuals and b) society, do to help people better understand themselves and accept themselves?

#1: Strive for peace of mind, not perfection. There is no perfect. Peace of mind looks different for everybody, but there is a lot of research that shows that being kind (to yourself and other people) is a very effective way to get there.

What are 5 strategies that you implement to maintain your connection with and love for yourself, that our readers might learn from? Could you please give a story or example for each?

Step 1. Embrace where you are with love and acceptance.

There is a great practice called “Hand to Heart” that will help to soothe difficult emotions and release oxytocin (the “love hormone”) to get your self-love flowing. It’s pretty simple:

  • Place your hand on your heart.
  • Let your breathing be natural and relaxed as you feel the rise and fall of your chest with each inhale and exhale.
  • Notice the sensations there. You might feel a sense of warmth or your heartbeat.
  • Whatever you feel, regard it with a sense of kindness and understanding.
  • Stay with these feelings as long as you’d like.

Step 2. Let go of the “woe is me” storyline.

How often do you fall into the trap of thinking “I would be happy if only I {fill in the blank} ” or “Everything would be so much better if…”? These thoughts are like seeds, and if we keep watering them, they will blossom into full-blown beliefs. Instead, rather than staying caught up in the drama of that dialogue, choose to drop it, and you will open up entirely new possibilities. Letting go of our thoughts can be difficult at first, but this meditation called “Drop the Storyline” will help:

  • Bring to mind a thought or situation in your life that is challenging. It can be any situation that once you start thinking about it, it’s hard to get it out of your mind, like “Why is this happening to me?!”
  • Notice any emotions that might come up. Whatever you are feeling, try to name it. Maybe say to yourself something like: “Oh yes, this is frustration.” Or “Ah, this is sadness.”
  • See if you can describe it. Does it have a color? Or a shape, or a size? Where do you feel it in your body? Does it have a temperature or texture?
  • Whatever you’re experiencing, can you allow it to be there without trying to fix or change it?
  • Notice the story you tell yourself about it, and see if you can just drop it.
  • Try to stay with your experience just as it is without following the impulse to change or fix anything.
  • Notice any impulse to pick up the storyline again, and see if you can simply let it be.
  • Soften and relax the body as you continue to breathe.
  • Experience the energy of the emotion, and let it pass, seeing if it dissipates on its own.

Step 3. Breathe the change you want to see.

Your breath is a great barometer of how you are feeling, and you can actually use your breath to influence how you feel. So if you want to feel more self-love, working with the breath is a great place to start. “Even Breathing” is a technique that emphasises an attitude of kindness and understanding with each inhale and exhale.

  • Place your hand on your heart, and notice the sensations there. Whatever you feel, regard it with a sense of friendliness and acceptance.
  • As you breathe, make your inhale the same length as your exhale. For example, if you breathe in for a count of 3, breathe out for a count of 3.
  • Let your tone be kind and friendly as you count in your mind. Allow this feeling of friendliness to grow with each breath.
  • Soften any tension in your body as you inhale and exhale.
  • With each exhale, imagine that the feeling of friendliness and acceptance fills your entire body: every space, every cell.
  • And now, feel that sense of friendliness and acceptance expand to fill the room, and further to fill the whole city, even the whole world — infinitely expanding the feeling of friendliness and acceptance with each breath.

Step 4. Supercharge your heart with a kindness meditation.

It’s easy to forget that we are worthy of love from ourselves and others. This “Loving Kindness” meditation allows you to be able to send and receive love whenever you need it the most.

  • Start by visualizing yourself sitting in front of you; it’s almost like you are looking at into a mirror. Let your heart open to yourself, feeling the connection.
  • Now repeat some kind phrases slowly, imagining that the image of yourself is receiving them. For example: “May I be happy and at ease.” “May I be safe and free from harm.” “May I be at peace and free from suffering.”
  • If you feel inspired, add whatever else you would like to send to yourself.
  • Now, imagine someone in your mind’s eye whom you care about very much, someone for whom feelings of love and kindness comes easy.
  • Like before, imagine them, and really try to paint a picture of them. Let your heart open to them, feeling the connection.
  • Repeat these phrases, imagining that the person you are sitting in front of is receiving them. For example, “May you be happy and at ease.” “May you be safe and whole.” “May you be at peace and free from suffering.”

Step 5. Let that love flow.

Spend as much time as possible with people you like (family, friends, etc.), and let them know how much you appreciate them. Kindness and appreciation fosters strong social connection, which strengthens the immune system and reduces stress.

What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources for self-psychology, intimacy, or relationships? What do you love about each one and how does it resonate with you?

Savvy Psychologist Podcast: She’s very straightforward and offers practical advice for common, and difficult, mental health challenges.

Loving Kindness, by Tulku Thondup: Tulku Thondup is a visiting Harvard scholar and meditation master. He is one of the most gentle, kind human beings I have ever met. This book describes a traditional buddhist loving kindness practice that is like a balm for the soul.

Greater Good Science Center: A great web resource for the latest science and best practices related to strengthening gratitude, kindness and building strong relationships.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? Maybe we’ll inspire our readers to start it…

It would most definitely be the “Peace, not Perfect” movement. The pressure to be perfect, comparing ourselves to others, trying to live up to some image of life that has nothing to do with reality is damaging. It fuels so much stress and anxiety, and I think it’s related to rising suicide rates. There is this mistaken belief, especially among younger people, that if you make one mistake, your life is over. So yeah, make your life about finding peace of mind and helping others, not striving for perfection.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” that you use to guide yourself by?

“If you want others to be happy, be kind. If you want to be happy, be kind.” I think HH Dalai Lama said that.

Kindness is an incredibly powerful energy that radiates from the inside and can carry you through any situation, especially difficult and painful ones.

Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life and how our readers might learn to live by it in theirs?

I used to think that doing whatever it took to look after my own self-interest was the path to happiness, but it never really produced lasting results. I always felt this vague sense of dissatisfaction. When I made the shift to prioritizing kindness and caring for other people instead, I learned that “kind” was not something you either were or you weren’t, but that you could actually cultivate it, and it changed my whole focus. There are a couple of really simple ways I implement this in my daily life. Sometimes I’m better at it than others, as my husband will attest.

I schedule one less thing:

When I rush around, trying to get to the office or a meeting on time, or trying to run 25 errands in a short span of time, it’s easy to get annoyed with people because they appear to be “in my way.” Instead, I started to schedule one less thing each day. I use that extra space to make more positive connections. It can be simple, like making an effort to say hello to someone I pass on the street. I make a conscious effort to be a kind driver. When someone does something nice for me, I make sure to acknowledge it and say thank you. It changes the entire feel of my day. I am less rushed, and it also enables me to pay more loving attention to my husband and child before I leave for the day.

Before a meeting or conversation:

I try to intentionally approach interactions with more kindness and understanding. Before a conversation, I’ll often do this quick practice, where I call to mind the person or group of people I’m about to interact with.

  • I’ll try to think of some things we may have in common and then will silently say to myself, “They’re just like me.” For example, “Just like me, they want to be happy and have a positive experience.”
  • Once I’ve thought of a few things we have in common, I’ll take three deeps breaths and with the first one, wish for my own happiness. Something like, “May I be strong and healthy, and may I have positive experiences and happiness.” With the second breath, I’ll wish for the happiness of the person I’ll be interacting with soon. Something like “May they be peaceful, safe and content, and may they have positive experiences and happiness.” And with the third breath, I’ll smile. This is a really effective reset.

Thank you so much for your time and for your inspiring insights!

About the Author:

Sasza Lohrey is the Founder & CEO of BBXX, a digital platform for intimacy and wellbeing. She is also the host of the BBXX podcast, “Let’s Get Intimate!” which hosts provocative and entertaining conversations with experts in order to challenge the way our culture conditions us to talk about sex, intimacy, and healthy relationships. BBXX was created in order to help people better understand themselves, so that they then can form deeper and more fulfilling relationships with others. Sasza is a former D1 athlete with a background in psychology and digital media. She is a member of the Women of Sex Tech collective, the co-mentorship community Dreamers and Doers, and a regular columnist for several online publications. Originally from the Bay Area, Sasza founded BBXX during a Stanford entrepreneurship program in Santiago, Chile. Learn more on our website and listen to more interviews with experts on our top-rated podcast!

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...


“We’ve started a movement for people to take 5 minutes a day to stop, breathe & think” With Jamie Price

by Yitzi Weiner

“Stop, Breathe & Think” App Co-founder Shares 5 Ways to Improve Your Relationship with Tech

by Dan Pannasch

Jamie Price of MyLife: “Take full responsibility for your decisions”

by Sonia Molodecky
We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.