If I was on a desert island and granted one skill to survive, it would be 123-pause-321. In all seriousness this is the most valuable skill I teach my clients.  It is very simple…so simple that my clients say “Really Barbara? Can’t you give me something better than this?” My answer to that is … Wasn’t it Leonardo Davinci who said simplicity is the ultimate sophistication?  Mr. Roger’s (my hero) was fond of repeating the quote, “Deep and simple is far more essential than shallow and complex”. Keeping that in mind let me explain how the skill works.

  1. Breathing from your belly, INHALE.  If you are not experienced in belly breathing, try this.  Place your hands on your belly and breathe.  If you are belly breathing, your hands will rise and fall with each breath. Keep practicing until you get it down.
  2. While inhaling, slowly count to 3. It’s best if you count inside your mind, because its hard to inhale and talk at the same time.  Besides, you can practice this skill at anytime and in any place, and it may not be socially appropriate to count out loud.
  3. After counting to 3, take a pause for one count.  That means hold your breath for one count.
  4. Then exhale, slowly counting down 3,2,1
  5. Repeat several times. You’d be surprised how many times you can practice this in just one or two minutes.
  6. Practice this several times a day. Remember practice makes perfect.  When I was learning this skill, I would practice it along with other daily rituals like brushing my teeth and driving to work.

This skill is useful in reducing anxiety and improving overall well-being … More later on why it works in Emotion School.  For now just trust me and practice.