Stress, anxiety, and overwhelm can affect us all. They may pop up when you’re stuck in traffic, during busy times at work, when managing your finances, or when coping with a challenging relationship. Whilst unfortunately there is no magic cure to stop these feelings from ever appearing again, there are breathing techniques which can help to bring your focus back to the present moment and yourself back to a state of calm.
Box breathing is a powerful, yet simple, relaxation exercise that can help to clear the mind, relax the body, and improve mental clarity. Known as a stress management tool, it can be practiced virtually anywhere and anytime - when you're showering, watching tv, or even working.
The practice itself, which gets its name because there are four equal parts to it, can be a relatively intense breath pattern, with its evenly timed inhales, holds, and exhales, however it has the power to bring you back to yourself when you need it most.
Perhaps you’re about to have a difficult conversation, or you’re in a stressful situation, and need to be present but also want to remain calm - box breathing has the ability to reinstate a deeply relaxed body and an alert, focused state of mind. In fact, box breathing is so impactful that it’s a frequent practice used by Navy SEALS in high-stress situations to aid in stress management and overall wellness.
Benefits Of Box Breathing
This practice of connecting with your breath is a great way to introduce more tranquility, clarity, and alignment into your everyday life and I invite you to try it with me following the instructions below.
Deep breathing techniques, such as box breathing, have been shown to significantly reduce the production of hormones associated with stress, such as cortisol, by stimulating the vagus nerve (running from the neck down through the diaphragm) and sending signals back into the brain for calming and healing.
In general, controlled breathing has the power to release emotional pain, recharge your creative battery, detox your nervous system, and nourish your soul. Studies have shown that it can increase your mental clarity, energy levels, focus, and outlook on life. It truly allows you to become your own healer, and you already have everything you need to get started on your journey - your breath!
Getting Started With Box Breathing
The box breath is a fantastic practice when you need to release that anxiety or stress, inject some positivity into your mindset, or when you need an energy hit and to realign your focus. The great thing is, you can practice this technique anytime and anywhere you need.
Take this space for yourself and bring yourself back to where you need to be - right here in the moment. To practice this breath, sit comfortably, place one hand on your stomach and one hand on your heart, and close your eyes. Then, follow the below:
- Inhale through the nose for four seconds.
- Hold your breath for four seconds.
- Exhale through your nose for four seconds.
- Hold your breath for four seconds.
Try repeating this sequence four times, which is one minute of controlled breath. From there, feel free to work your way up to longer sessions of 5 minutes or 10 minutes. I recommend staying under the 20-minute mark to avoid any dizziness or lightheadedness.
Things To Remember
Many sensations can arise when connecting with your breath in this way - tingling, vibrations, memories, temperature changes, and a rise in emotions.
If you’re new to box breathing, you may get dizzy after a few rounds. This is normal. As you practice it more often, you’ll be able to go longer without the dizziness. Don’t rush into it - take things at your own safe, comfortable pace.
When you feel any energy of emotion arise, don’t fear them - let them go. The most important thing is to feel safe. If you experience any dizziness, or feelings of unease, return to normal breathing.
As with anything, you can get better at box breathing with a little bit of practice. Working on your box breathing in times of calm can help you harness it in times of anxiety, even going so far as to lessen your body’s overall response to stress.
I am here for you, always. If you would like to experience box breathing together, or find out more about other breathing techniques to bring inner calm, I encourage you to join The Awakening community, or reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Instagram @nicola_laye