1. Starting the Day Right — 5-4-3-2-1 Awareness Technique
Breathe deeply and think to yourself:
- 5 things you can see
- 4 things you can feel
- 3 things you can hear
- 2 things you can smell
- 1 thing you can taste
This technique is best accomplished if incorporated into your morning routine over a cup of tea or coffee.
2. Calming Yourself in a Stressful Moment — Self-Guided Meditation
- Find a relaxing, comfortable position. You could be seated on a chair or on the floor on a cushion. Keep your back upright, but not too tight. Hands resting on your knees with your palms facing up or wherever they're comfortable.
- When you are ready, start by closing your eyes. Try to notice the shape of your body, its weight. Let yourself relax here—observe what your body is experiencing in this moment, the connection with the floor or the chair. Try to relax any tightening or straining around the eyes. Starting from the crown of your head and moving to your toes, relax any areas of tightness or tension you notice. Just breathe.
- Feel the natural flow of your breath. Now take a deeper breath in, hold it for a second... and exhale slowly. Notice where you feel your breath in your body. It might be in your abdomen. It may be in your chest or throat or in your nostrils. See if you can feel your breath rising from your abdomen to the crown of your head and back down. Observe where one breath ends, and the next breath begins.
- Be kind to your wandering mind. Now as you do this, you might notice that your mind may start to wander. You may start thinking about other things. If this happens, it's ok. Just notice that your mind has wandere and gently redirect your attention right back to the rhythm of your breath.
- Stay here for a couple minutes. Notice your breath, in silence. From time to time, you'll get lost in thought, then return to your breath.
- Check in before you check out. After a few minutes, once again notice your body, your whole body, seated here. Let yourself take a few seconds to relax even more deeply. Wiggle your fingers and toes. Turn your head to the right and then the left and bring it back to face forward. Gently open your eyes and bring your awareness back to the room.
"Mindful Breathing (Greater Good in Action)." Practice | Greater Good in Action, The Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley, 2017, ggia.berkeley.edu/practice/mindful_breathing.
3. Mindfulness and Meditation for Sleep — 4-7-8 Breathing Technique
This breathing exercise is a natural tranquilizer for the nervous system. It can be done in any position however sitting upright or lying down on your back will be the most effective. Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there through the entire exercise. You will be exhaling through your mouth around your tongue; try pursing your lips slightly if this seems awkward.
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
- Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
- Hold your breath for a count of seven.
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
- This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.
Note that with this breathing technique, you always inhale quietly through your nose and exhale audibly through your mouth. The tip of your tongue stays in position the whole time. Exhalation takes twice as long as inhalation. The absolute time you spend on each phase is not important; the ratio of 4:7:8 is important. If you have trouble holding your breath, speed the exercise up but keep to the ratio of 4:7:8 for the three phases. With practice, you can slow it all down and get used to inhaling and exhaling more and more deeply.
Weil, Andrew. "Three Breathing Exercises and Techniques." DrWeil.com, Healthy Lifestyle Brands, LLC, 2 June 2017, www.drweil.com/health-wellness/body-mind-spirit/stress-anxiety/breathing-three-exercises/.