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Take a Breathing Break or Mini Vacation
by Bret Lyon, PhD

Taking a five to ten minute breathing break is a simple and powerful way to to rejuvenate and have life go a lot more smoothly.

You can do this anywhere you can be private and have your eyes closed (though definitely not while you're driving). You can do it any time — I recommend at least once a day. It will help you wake up in the morning and wind down at night. It can be helpful when you're feeling tired, stressed, upset or lacking clarity or motivation.

Sit in a comfortable chair. Close your eyes. Begin by taking a few deep, smooth conscious breaths. Often it is easier to start with the exhale. An easy sigh of relief will quickly open the breath. So will a yawn. If a deep inhale is easier for you, start with that.

Allow the breath in and out and notice where it goes. Check how you are feeling right now. Acknowledge all sensations and emotions and say hello to them with the breath. Then let concerns — thoughts, feelings — drop away and focus on the breath. See if you can enjoy the process of letting the breath go in and out. Notice the natural stimulation and relaxation that occurs. Be aware that you don't have to do anything but breathe for the next few minutes. Right now nothing has to get done. Just let the breath fill you and let it go. See if you can just be present with whatever comes. Enjoy.

If there are strong emotions, just acknowledge them as you stay with the breath. You may have a sense of seeing them in a mist, or floating with them down a gently, slow-moving stream.

If you would like, you can imagine that you're in your favorite place while you breathe. It can be a place where you always feel peaceful and serene — or wildly joyfu.l Maybe it's somewhere in nature. By a running stream. Or in a forest. Or maybe it's a cozy room. Can you imagine you're there right now?

Now allow yourself to just breathe. Notice what you see in that special place. What do you see around you? What do you hear in that special place? What sensations are you feeling in your body? As you notice, keep breathing. Notice the breath going in and out as you sit in your special place, paying attention to the sensations in your body as you continue to be in that place. ...And you might want to notice how you're feeling right now.

You will often have a sense of when your break is complete and time is up. You can set a timer if you need to. (Please locate a gentle one and have it near to hand. One that simply vibrates or is musical is ideal). Allow a minute or two to come back. Open your eyes softly. Look gently around the room. You can yawn and stretch. If it is night you can simply allow yourself to drift off.

Many people find this break both relaxing and rejuvenating. It will leave you more ready to face the challenges of the day, or to fall asleep at night. In addition, taking these breaks will help you be more aware of your breathing in everyday life. You will find yourself holding your breath less, and noticing more quickly when you do.


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