Do you need to calm your mind when going to sleep or waking up in the middle of the night? Breathwork is a simple method of bringing serenity and tranquility to your body, as well as mindfulness and focus to your mind.
Focusing on the sensation of the breath helps to gradually quiet the mind. Feel the breath moving through your nostrils, fill your chest, and expand your belly, then follow the breath as it moves from your belly through your chest and out through your nose. Paying close attention to the steady rhythm of your inhales and exhales has very soothing effects.
The best thing about breathwork is that you can practice it anywhere and anytime. For example, when you feel irritated in traffic, stressed at work, anxious traveling in an airplane, nervous before a talk or interview, when going to sleep or waking up during the night, during meditation, when feeling impatient, and whenever else you need a little break to calm your body, and focus your mind.
There are many breathing practices and today I would like to introduce you to the “Four by Four” breathing practice. This method is even used by the Navy Seals to stay calm, focused, and alert. Are you ready? Great, let’s get started…
Find a comfortable spot where you can sit comfortably and undisturbed. Now gently bring your awareness to your breath. Begin to lengthen your inhales, and expand your exhales. Breathe through your nose, throat, chest, and all the way into your belly. Let your belly rise and fall with every breath.
Let’s see how it works before we actually start. We’ll inhale to the count of 4, retain the breath for 4, exhale to the count of 4, hold to the count for 4, and then inhale again and repeat. If you feel anxious holding your breath to the count of 4, simply start by holding your breath for just 1 second or not at all. Also, when you hold your breath, see if you soften your shoulders and relax. Again if you feel you are straining, start by just inhaling and exhaling to the count of 4.
So let’s do this together. To begin, exhale fully and then…
When your mind begins to wander by just focusing on the count, you may consider adding a little visual to the breathing practice. Imagine a square in your mind’s eye.