7Checking Your Status Through Your Breath

This is a good time to be consciously checking that the awareness you are cultivating in any breath practice is filtering into how you cope with stressful situations. Habits of disordered breathing may be long-term and every single breath needs awareness to keep coming back to a sense of spaciousness and calm.

At the end of phase one, you are probably feeling more aware of your breath and situations where you might hold breath, shallow breath or tense your shoulders. Refer back to the Mindfulness of Breathing practice on page 188 of The De-Stress Effect and consider the following questions to help you apply these principles to where really needed:

  • Do I feel ‘locked’ in body and mind sometimes and then notice my breath held up into my head?
  • Do I feel things quickly getting to boiling point and only after noticing that I’m holding my breath?
  • Do I feel my chest tightening and constant neck and shoulder tightness after bouts of stress?

If yes to any of these, an hourly breath break where you simply take 10 Deep Breaths can be a great proactive solution. Rather than remembering to breathe after the event, setting a habit can help recondition a body that is not used to accessing its own natural coping mechanisms. You can even set a gentle vibrate or gong alarm on your phone to pay attention to your breath for a minute or two or sit on a park bench to add in outside air to your calming potential. Mostly, remember that even a few conscious breaths is worth it.

Try these practices to help:

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Help with meditations

Also, come back to the short meditations whenever you can:

You can also see my album of other meditations here