Practicing conscious breathing in the moment can increase the amount of oxygen that is spreading throughout your body and is useful in moments when you feel overwhelmed or anxious. Deep breathing can also reduce and stabilize your heart rate. It can provide a focus point which allows you to feel more grounded and present. When we are grounded in the present moment, we are less likely to dwell on other thoughts.

Try this short breath awareness exercise. Bring awareness to your breath and simply follow it as if you were watching a long volley at a tennis match. As the breath comes in and out, notice the experience of breathing and the movement that takes place in your body. Now shift your posture, for example maybe leaning a bit to one side or tilting the head. Notice if you feel any changes in the sensation of your breath in this slightly different position. Notice how you feel after practicing breath awareness. The more you do it, you may begin to notice that breath awareness can be used throughout your day.

For more practice with this, we invite you to spend three minutes with Dr. Brandon Yabko, program director of the Mindfulness Center at the Salt Lake City VA, as he guides you through a brief breathing practice: Three Minute Breathing Space.

Every moment allows you the opportunity to take a deep breath in and be grateful for the fact that you can take in a breath. – John Assaraf.

VA Mindfulness Coach App

You can learn more about breathing and mindfulness with the VA Mindfulness Coach app. Mindfulness Coach 2 was developed to help Veterans, service members and others learn how to practice mindfulness.

The app provides a gradual, self-guided training program designed to help you understand and adopt a simple mindfulness practice. Mindfulness Coach also offers a library of information about mindfulness, 12 audio-guided mindfulness exercises, a growing catalog of additional exercises available for free download, goal-setting and tracking, a mindfulness mastery assessment to help you track your progress over time, customizable reminders, and access to other support and crisis resources. The Mindfulness Coach was created by VA’s National Center for PTSD, and can be found here: https://mobile.va.gov/app/mindfulness-coach.

The more you practice relaxed breathing, the more effective it can be. The same goes for living Whole Health. To find out how to incorporate more self-care into your life, visit https://www.va.gov/WHOLEHEALTH/circle-of-health/index.asp.

By Sara Grimsgaard, MHMS, NBC-HWC is a health systems specialist for the Integrative Health Coordinating Center and Whole Health Education Program in the VHA Office of Patient Centered Care and Cultural Transformation

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Published on Aug. 9, 2021

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