What is awareness of breath?

Our mind and emotions play a key role in our health. Through mindful awareness and self-care tools, we can take charge of our health and well-being to live our life to the fullest. Mindful awareness is being fully aware and tuned in to what is going on right now, in the present moment, and it takes time to cultivate it.

With practice, mindful awareness comes more easily and naturally.

In these mindfulness practices, there is often a focus on using something as an anchor, whether that is the physical sensations in the body, awareness of breath or sound, or something else. During these practices you may notice your attention drifting to other thoughts, which is totally normal! By simply returning your attention to your anchor each time it wanders, you are accepting your experience without elaboration, judgement or resistance.

Join me in this short mindfulness practice with a focus on the breath.

Mindful breathing can be done formally in a breath awareness practice (as above) or informally throughout your day by simply pausing to use your breath as a cue to bring awareness back to your present experience.

Try this: Set a timer for one minute. During that minute, count your rounds of breath (including the inhale and exhale as one round). Then jot that number down. Throughout your day when you feel like you could use a minute of mindful breathing, pause to count the number of breaths you took in during that minute.

Did you know that you could have mindfulness tools at your fingertips?

Mindfulness Coach is a free and publicly available mobile app for people who are interested in learning about and practicing mindfulness. It was created by a team at VA’s National Center for PTSD. This app provides users with education about mindfulness, a self-assessment for mindfulness mastery, a training plan and exercises that can help users build a daily mindfulness practice, and opportunities to find support. This app can be used by anyone. To learn more about VA apps, visit https://mobile.va.gov/appstore.

Looking for more breathing exercises?

Breathe2Relax is a portable stress management tool that uses breathing exercises to manage stress. It uses animation, narration and videos that help you have an in-the-moment experience. Breathe2Relax can help you manage stress by showing you how to practice deep-breathing exercises in-between appointments with a clinician. This app teaches an important skill called diaphragmatic breathing (also called belly breathing), which interrupts the body’s fight-or-flight stress response and activates the body’s relaxation response, which can help with mood stabilization, anger control and anxiety management.

Like any skill, this type of breathing requires regular practice and use; this app helps you do that whenever and wherever you want. This mobile application was developed by the U.S. Department of Defense and is available for free on Apple and Android platforms. Device Review: Breathe2Relax – Rehabilitation and Prosthetic Services (va.gov).

By Alison M. Whitehead, MPH, C-IAYT is the program lead for the Integrative Health Coordinating Center in the VHA Office of Patient Centered Care and Cultural Transformation

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Published on Sep. 20, 2021

Estimated reading time is 2.5 min.

Views to date: 276

One Comment

  1. Jc French September 21, 2021 at 10:15 am

    I have been doing breathing one-minute breathing exercises for a while; they help.


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