A Breathing Practice to Reduce Stress and Anxiety
People often ask me for a simple breathing exercise to reduce stress and anxiety. Here is a safe, powerful practice I use personally and teach often.
Next time you feel stressed out or anxious or about to be, take an inner sensory snapshot of your entire body/mind. Simply observe what is happening in your sensations, emotions, and thoughts as honestly as you can. Then, for at least three minutes, put most of your attention on your breathing, especially on your out-breath. Let your out-breath begin to lengthen naturally as you breathe in through your nose and out through pursed lips (as though you were gently blowing on a candle without extinguishing it). Don’t pay any particular attention to your inhalation; let it arise by itself when it’s ready.
As the lengthening of your out-breath takes place, you will find yourself beginning to relax. To deepen this relaxation, you can hum quietly for several breaths during exhalation, sensing the action of the humming throughout your body. Don’t force the humming in any way, and be sure after each out-breath (hum) to simply wait for the in-breath to arise on its own.
When you’re ready to stop, just return to following your breath in and out through your nose, listening for several breaths to whatever is occurring both inside and out. Then take another sensory snapshot of yourself. How do you feel? Are you freer now from your habitual mental and emotional reactions? Are you more able now to sense the life force moving spontaneously through you? Just sense and observe what is now occurring in this amazing temple of energy that you call your body.
Copyright 2008-09 by Dennis Lewis. Adapted from a similar practice in my book Free Your Breath, Free Your Life