A simple breath practice to completely take you out of your own head and sloooow down...
Nobody in the history of the world – I’m going out on a limb here – calmed down when they were told to calm down in that insistent, slightly sarcastic voice.
And we’ve all heard the ‘take a deep breath’ when you are stressed. Since learning about mindfulness and breath, I realise the power is in the exhale, rather than the deep breath in.
When we’re stressed, our sympathetic nervous system kicks in – fight, flight (or freeze) and our body prepares to run away or fight. When the threat goes away, our parasympathethic nervous system takes over, and we move into ‘rest and digest’. But what if we get stuck in our stress response?
This is such a simple hack, but saves me at least once a day...
4,7,8 breathing: breathe in for 4 (your own count – not necessarily seconds), hold for 7, and breathe out for 8 (I purse my lips as if blowing out a candle).
It will help you in the moment, slowing everything down, giving some space around difficult emotions, and stalling that emotional brain that is responsible for spouting off more and more thoughts to keep you stuck in that stress loop.
It’s best to practice it when you are, so when you are in that moment, you’ll remember to try it.
"When I received your meditation, I lay down on the floor by the tree and did exactly what you said 4,7,8 – it worked so well for me. After a couple of minutes, I was in another world. All the stress is gone – usually I’m feeling uncertain. I don’t know how to say thank you."
What do you do as your instant calmer?