The Great Hidden Mindfulness Technique


Some time ago, I asked someone I trusted for advice on coping with emotional stress as I was going through a lot of big changes in my life.  Even though the changes were mostly positive, I was anxious, worried, and physically tense.  I remember feeling disappointed when I was advised to practice deep breathing.  I was expecting something a little more glamorous and complicated.  Really?  No elaborate protocols to reduce my tension?  Breathing?  That’s it?  It seemed too simple and easy to really work.

I had been practicing mindfulness for years.  I was very familiar with different strategies to help bring my focus to the present moment and my favorite was to hone emotional and bodily awareness, yet I had not been drawn to breathing exercises.

Despite my disappointment, I took the advice.  I set out to practice deep breathing for at least ten minutes a day.  At first, my mind wandered and I forgot I was practicing breathing.  Sometimes I fell asleep or lost track of time.  Eventually, I found an app that guided me through ten second inhales and ten second exhales for ten minutes at a time.  I focused gently on inhaling and exhaling, and I imagined exhaling stress away.  I still had distracting thoughts, but the sounds on the app reminded me to redirect my focus back to my breathing.  By the end of the ten minutes, I continually felt less anxious, stressed, and calmer.  I had more clarity in my thinking and found space to truly be in the present moment.

I brought deep breathing into my everyday life.  I considered it a secret weapon to purposefully deepen my inhales and exhales during difficult conversations or stressful projects.  I took tiny breathing “time-outs” and noticed I approached life with a more flexible attitude.

Deep breathing did not change my struggles.  It did not take my challenges away.  What it did was change my disposition, some days only a little bit, so I could make decisions from a more centered place.



About Ellen McDow LPC

Ellen knows how to help people process painful emotions and make meaning of their lives in a way that helps them reclaim joy. Whether you are dealing with depression, anxiety, relationship issues, trauma, or other life difficulties, Ellen’s extensive training in practicing EMDR from an attachment theory perspective, DBT and EFT has equipped her well to effectively help you work through your challenges.