Deep Breath Relaxation

Basic Technique

Sit or lie comfortably. Place one hand on your abdomen. As you breathe, allow the air to move down to the bottom of your lungs. Feel the expansion in your abdomen. Breathing this way, you are taking in more oxygen with each breath. Next, concentrate on exhaling slowly. Feel yourself relaxing with each exhalation. Notice any sensations that signal relaxation, such as tingling, stillness, light or heavy feelings, and a quiet mind.

Daily Practice

Practice this exercise for 2 to 3 minutes, twice each day. Over time you will find that you are breathing more slowly and deeply without thinking about it, and you will be more relaxed as a result. Once you have learned this technique, you can use it to calm yourself at the onset of anxiety. Adjust your breathing to relax yourself, then return your attention to the situation at hand and consider it from a more relaxed perspective.

Extended Practice

Set aside 15 to 30 minutes when you will not be disturbed. Sit or lie comfortably and establish relaxed breathing. Then try one or more of the following:

1. As you relax, turn your attention to different parts of your body, one at a time. Imagine that you are breathing in energy to soothe and relax that part of your body. Any tension there is lifted off and leaves your body as you exhale. As each part of your body relaxes, you will find your mind relaxing.

2. Let any troubling thoughts drift on by. Allow any troubling feelings to rise to the surface of your mind to be acknowledged and released. Become aware of an inner sense of self-worth and well-being.

3. Visualize a place where you can enjoy being fully relaxed and comfortable. Experience that place as vividly as you can with all of your senses.

If there is something that has been upsetting you, you can use this time to ponder that matter from a relaxed perspective. You may arrive at a new understanding or a solution to a problem that has been troubling you. Visualize yourself in the future handling that situation effectively, free of distress. Then return to that relaxing place and enjoy being there for as long as you like. Then take a few moments to gently rouse yourself.