“Your breath is your best friend. It’s always there for you. You just have to call it.”
As I heard one of my dear best friends speak these simple words, a kind of deep realization awakened inside of me. Although she described this “breath as best friend” idea as a teaching tool she uses with young children, it had a powerful effect on me.
Already years into my journey of learning and practicing mindfulness and meditation, her concept led me to the awareness that I could recognize the connection to my breath as a special kind of relationship. Ever since that moment, I have remembered to call on my “best friend,” my breath, as the first thing to evoke in challenging moments. In fact, you may be very aware that during times of stress, our body’s automatic response is often to take a deep breath or sigh. However, we can utilize the power of conscious breathing to be there for us at any time. And it’s true that the more attention we give to any relationship, the stronger it can grow.
Amidst the whirlwind of uncertainty taking place all around us, we might find that we can often get swept up in the turbulent current, unable to find solid ground. With all that we are facing in the current state of our world, it is more important than ever to find an anchor within ourselves. Our breath is one of the most powerful anchors, having the ability to ground us into the present moment. Working with our breath by using breathing techniques on a regular basis can assist us to feel more stillness inside. If we picture our internal state as a snow globe…after being vigorously shaken and swirling with thoughts and emotions caused by all of the external disarray…our breath can settle all the little particles to the bottom.
Practicing the 4-7-8 breathing technique, promoted by Integrative Medicine Practitioner, Dr. Andrew Weil, can result in a variety of benefits such as anxiety reduction, improved ability to fall asleep, management of cravings, and reduced stress and anger response.
To use the 4-7-8 breath, follow these simple steps:
- Inhale through your nose for four seconds.
- Hold your breath while you count to seven.
- Exhale through your mouth, making a whoosh sound, for eight seconds.
- Repeat this cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.
It is recommended to do this exercise twice daily. Over time, the benefits will become more profound, resulting in greater states of mental, emotional, and physical well-being.
Just like any new habit, it takes time for a new behavior to become routine. Sticking with it on a daily basis is the key.
Remember, your breath is your friend…it is there for you to access at any moment. Just keep remembering to consciously tune into it.
If you’d like to learn more personalized breathing practices, please reach out to schedule a session with a Nourish Your Mind Specialist.
Call/Text (845) 547-0479 or NourishYourMind.com/Appointment
Perryn Dutiger, LMSW
Clinical Psycotherapist, Nourish Your Mind – Integrative Mental Health