Breathing – using it to help you relax

One of the tools I often give clients to practice is a technique called 7/11 breathing. It may seem strange to think of breathing as a technique because it’s something we usually do without thinking about it. But breathing in a particular way can create an amazing change in the way that you feel.

I often suggest that people try it when they feel stressed or anxious and although it can take a little while to get used to doing it the ability to control and manage your own state of anxiety is extremely empowering.

With permission I wanted to share this feedback that I received from a client of her experience of mindful breathing

”Tension is building in the sky. A storm is coming and feels inevitable. The dark clouds are clumping together creating a seemingly breakable force of anger and foreboding. But I’m distracted for moment and, when I look to the heavens once more, I see that a breath of wind has arrived.  Not an angry, destructive wind, but rather waves of gentle, calming, unassuming breeze which are just enough to break the clouds and allow a chink of sunlight to peep through. What seemed a moment ago to be an impossibly foregone conclusion of rain and misery now seems to have been lifted by just a few calming and refreshing breaths which allowed a ray of sunlight to break through and carried the atmosphere to entirely different place. I think I’ll go out for a walk now… It looks nice outside….”

I think it’s a lovely way to describe what happens when 7/11 breathing is used effectively to create enough space to allow a ray of sunlight to break through and enable you to choose how you get on with the rest of your day.

So please try it for yourself and see how you get on, think about how you feel before you’ve tried it and then after you’ve tried it.

Find a space where you will not be disturbed and sit or lie comfortably closing your eyes.

Keep your shoulders down and take a really deep breath – it can be helpful to put your hand on your stomach to feel it inflating as we often breathe into the chest instead.

As you breath out just allow the out breath to extend so that it lasts longer than the in breath. A good way to do this is to breathe in to the count of 7, then breathe out gently for a count of 11.

If you can’t breathe out for that long, hold your breath for the remainder of the time while you keep counting to 11 and then breath in again. Alternatively, try breathing in to the count of 3 and out, more slowly to the count of 5.

Do this about 10 or 20 times concentrating on the counting. You may find that your mind wanders and that’s fine. Any time you notice that it has just gently bring it back to focus on the breath.

It’s really that simple but it can make a big difference so good luck and I’d love to hear how you get on.