This page is part of the Taming the Monkey Series

In this installment, we’re going to get into some of the breathing techniques and exercises I use myself and teach others to help tame the mind monkey. Please be aware that this page and its content are not a substitute for professional medical or mental health counseling and therapy.

Conscious Breathing 101

When you’re ready to begin, stop whatever you’re doing. Find a comfortable place to sit and be still for a moment.

Before you start, take a few breaths to get more focused and centered. Rest your dominant hand – the hand you write with – lightly on the center of your chest.

Now take a deep breath in, feeling your chest rise. Hold on to that breath for just a moment. Then gently release it as though your body was deflating. Just let your shoulders drop and relax along with it.

Inhale again, focusing on that spot where your hand and your chest meet, then let it go.

One more deep inhale, visualizing the oxygen entering and flowing through your body, into your chest, through your arms and hands and fingers. Down through your belly, into your legs, feet, and toes. Exhale and feel the oxygen energizing your whole body as the carbon dioxide is released.

If you stop here and only use this most basic of exercises with regularity, you will have a tool in your tool belt that will go a long way toward helping calm your body and mind. I encourage you to continue, though, and learn how different breathing techniques can calm you, drawing you deeper into a safe and grounded mental space.