Mindful breathing is a form of meditation. This meditative breathing practice can help you calm your mind, improve your focus, and center yourself.
What Is Mindful Breathing?
At its core, mindfulness breathing is simply the practice of concentrating on your breath. Of all of the automatic processes that your body does, only a few are controllable. Breathing is one of them.
You can both observe yourself breathing and control your breath. This enables a wonderful opportunity for the strengthening of the mind body connection.
The brilliant thing about mindful or conscious breathing is that you can do it anywhere, anytime. Although guided breathing meditation courses are available, there are really no “absolute” rules when it comes to breathing exercises. Meditation breathing techniques can help you learn, but in the end, the power of focus breathing always lies within you.
Why Should We Practice Mindful Breathing?
If you’ve never done a deep breath meditation before, you’re missing out. Practice it just once, and you’ll notice a difference immediately.
Breathe in, breathe out. It’s that simple.
We practice meditative breathing because it stops us in our tracks and helps us center, calm, and concentrate. Mindfulness breathing is simply another term for focused breathing, observant breathing, or watchful breathing.
You are turning the usually unconscious and automatic stream of thoughts, feelings, and emotions down. And you’re igniting the conscious act of simply breathing and focusing on your breathing.
There is no “point” per se. You can’t “win” at this breathing practice, and you certainly can’t “finish” or “accomplish” it. Nor can you do it wrong as long as you try.
When you need help, Anahana’s mindfulness and meditation instructors will help you learn how breathing works when meditating or practicing mindfulness.
With their experienced guidance, useful meditation breathing techniques, and practice scripts, you can learn to practice breathing exercises for anxiety, stress, pain, nerves, and more.
Who Is This Practice Best For?
Good news! Mindful or conscious breathing can help everyone.
With that being said, it is an especially beneficial practice for those who are frequently stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed. Frazzled moms and dads out there — that’s you. It’s also anyone else who feels overworked, worried, excessively tired, nervous, or all of the above.
Concerned about how to start and practice it?
Just close your eyes right now, and take one long, deep breath or breathe regularly and slowly for one mindful minute. Breathe in deep. Now breathe heavy exhale. Repeat. Concentrate on your breathing. Notice your breath.
Try to replace the rapidly moving thoughts in your head with a focus on how each breath feels — the sensations you encounter as your lungs expand and contract.
Okay, now open your eyes. Congratulations, you’ve just done mindfulness breathing.
Common Expectations From Mindful or Observant Breathing
If you’re reading this, chances are you have some expectations when it comes to breathing mindfully. And to be sure, many of those expectations will become reality if you practice regularly.
Mindful or observant breathing is a time to focus on you. It’s a self-soothing, self-nurturing breathing practice — a time for you to define the breath and concentrate on it fully, whereas most of us are used to ignoring each breath and focusing on external goings-on.
At the same time, it’s important not to have unrealistic expectations. First of all, inevitably, you will forget to practice mindfulness or conscious breathing. And that may very well occur when you need your mindfulness script most all — when you are anxious or feeling overwhelmed.
It's at these times that having a reminder like a mindful breathing necklace comes in very handy. An increasing number of people use mindful breathing necklaces to help them remember to take a breath or breathe deeply when they start feeling overwhelmed or stressed.
Also remember that focus breathing won’t result in any type of immediate “blissful state.” If that’s what you’re expecting, reconsider: The effects are more subtle than that.
Plus, they must build up over time. Practice it for just a few weeks, and trust us: You’ll start to notice the difference.
Lastly, don’t rely too much on perfection. We get asked all the time to please “define breath (inhale and exhale).” Or, we’re asked “what a deep breathe vs breathing normally” looks like.
These questions naturally come from a great place. You want to do it right!
What Are The Benefits of Mindful or Meditative Breathing?
Again, anyone and everyone can benefit from learning how to breathe with mindfulness. Let’s take a look at some of the unique benefits you can expect:
A calmer, quieter mind with fewer distractions
A reduction in blood pressure1
A reduction in the tendency to ruminate on worrying or breathe vs breathing normally” looks like.
Promotion of the relaxation response3
Better memory and overall focus attention
Stress reduction, reducing stressful moments
Benefits for Parents
Here are some specific mindfulness breathing benefits for parents who may be feeling overwhelmed with kid-related stress and social and work responsibilities. Mindfulness breathing:
Helps you focus on what’s important and prioritize what matters, letting “the small stuff” drift away much more easily
Shows your children what it looks like to deal with stress and anxiety in a healthy way
Teaches your children that we can harness control over our emotions
Improves your concentration, allowing you to be more present, both when you’re spending time with your children and when you need to work or spend time alone
Increases your focus and improves productivity overall
Provides for less emotional reactivity when things don’t go “as planned”
Helps to calm breathing and the mind, resulting in more patience for both yourself and your family
Reduces the overall intensity of parental stress that builds up and compounds over time
Mindful Breathing: Frequently Asked Questions
Breathing mindfully is the act of putting your full attention on your breath. By doing so, you strengthen the mind body connection. This is because breathing is one of the only physical acts that are both automatic and controllable at the same time.
Like blinking your eyes, you breathe all of the time. But also like blinking, you can control your breath — how deeply you breathe and for how long you take each breath.
By putting your attention on this, you focus your mind and connect your concentration with your physical body, which is intensely therapeutic.
Yes, mindful or meditative breathing is a great place to start if you are interested in meditation. All meditations use the breath in some way. Taking several long, deep breaths at the beginning of a meditation session is common practice.
How can I concentrate on my breathing?
Concentrating on your breathing may seem daunting if you’ve never done it before. Really, the practice is just as it sounds: Put as much attention as possible on the simple act of breathing.
For example: Imagine the air as it travels in through your nostrils and down into your lungs. Feel your lungs expanding with air. Then, think about the air traveling up and out of your mouth.
When your mind loses focus, don’t despair. Simply take note of the distraction, and move your focus back to the breath.
How do I practice mindful breathing?
You can practice breathing mindfully anytime, anywhere. If you are struggling as a busy parent, this can be an especially handy aspect of the mindful breath practice. No matter where you are, what time it is, or what you’re dealing with, your breath is always with you and can help calm you.
To start mindful or watchful breathing, simply stop what you are doing right now, become still, try to relax your body, and notice your breath.
If it helps to narrow your concentration, take a deep breath in through your nose, and count to four. Hold the breath for another count of four. Now, release the breath slowly out of your mouth to another count of four. Wait four counts more, then repeat the cycle.
This is called box breathing or square breathing, and it is a great first-time mindful breath practice.
With Anahana’s digital calm breathing course offerings, we can help you learn how to master meditative breathing from the comfort of your own home.
What does it mean to be mindful?
Being mindful is a state of mind. In this state of mind, your full attention is on the present moment. In other words, you are not lost in thoughts or regrets of the past. You are also not lost in worries or concerns about the future.
How long do I do mindful breathing?
This is all up to you and the time you are willing to spend on this breathing. You could spend as little as a few minutes in between calls at work or during a break. Take five to seven minutes when you come home. Find a comfortable position and start performing this exercise. Start practice today!
What is the end objective with mindful breathing?
To perform mindful breathing meditation is a simple yet basic method to help you cultivate mindfulness. Focus on your own breathing, deep breathing, and allow for that bodily sensations as a natural flow throughout your body. This simple practice will improve your overall well being, mental health, reduce blood pressure. It is ok if your mind wanders during the practice, especially if you have had a busy day. This will allow you to disconnect and achieve a relaxed state quicker. If you are looking for an important skill to help you achieve a less stressful life, filled with less anxiety and overall improved well being, then mindful breathing is one of the breathing techniques you should look at. Make it part of your daily life.
Instead, your mind is focused on the here and now. You think about what you are doing, how you are postured, how you are breathing, and how you feel physically overall. You notice the sounds you hear, the sensations you feel, the smells around you, and what you see. This is mindfulness.