I hope you had a wonderful, joyful, Happy Halloween!!
Over the next 30 days I will be posting about ways to stress less. Welcome to day 1!
One of the best ways to stress less is to breath more! Dr Weil’s 4 7 8 breathing technique is a wonderful practice that I have been doing for several weeks now and have had great results. I do it twice a day, every day. I suggest you use it if and when you start to feel anxious or stressed. Not only does it help me relax both in the morning (before I meditate) and at night (before I go to sleep), it also gives me a few moments to center myself whenever I feel anxious or upset.
The 4-7-8 (or Relaxing Breath) Exercise:
One of the best things about this technique is that it takes almost no time, requires no equipment and can be done anywhere. Although you can do the exercise in any position, I prefer to sit with my back straight. Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there through the entire exercise. You will be exhaling through your mouth around your tongue; try pursing your lips slightly if this seems awkward. You’ll see this demonstrated in the video.
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
- Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
- Hold your breath for a count of seven.
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
- This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths. That’s it!
Note that you always inhale quietly through your nose and exhale audibly through your mouth. The tip of your tongue stays in position the whole time. Exhalation takes twice as long as inhalation. The absolute time you spend on each phase is not important; the ratio of 4:7:8 is important. If you have trouble holding your breath, speed the exercise up but keep to the ratio of 4:7:8 for the three phases. With practice you can slow it all down and get used to inhaling and exhaling more and more deeply.
I think you will be amazed at how well this exercise works as a natural tranquilizer for the nervous system. Unlike tranquilizing drugs, this exercise is subtle when you first try it but gains in power with repetition and practice.
PLEASE do this breathing exercise at least twice a day for the next week (Nov 1-7). You cannot do it too frequently. Do not do more than four breaths at one time for the first month of practice. Later, if you wish, you can extend it to eight breaths. If you feel a little lightheaded when you first breathe this way, do not be concerned; it will pass.
Once you develop this technique by practicing it every day, it will be a very useful tool that you will always have with you. Use it whenever anything upsetting happens – before you react. Use it whenever you are aware of internal tension. Use it to help you fall asleep. This exercise cannot be recommended too highly. Everyone can benefit from it.