Box breathing is a really simple breathing technique that can help us if we’re feeling stressed, anxious or fearful.
These reactions activate the body’s sympathetic nervous system – that is, the fight-flight-freeze stress response.
Box breathing can help us to move back into the body’s parasympathetic nervous system (that is, the calmer ‘tend and befriend’ or ‘rest and digest’ body state).
Box breathing can also help us to focus or ground ourselves. If we are struggling to get off to sleep, it can help to transition us into a sleep state.
We don’t have automatic control over the process of the brain that determines when we go to sleep so using this technique and stopping ‘trying’ can be really beneficial.
Here are the steps of this really easy practice:
• If it’s safe to do so, and you feel comfortable doing so, you can close your eyes.
• Breathe in slowly through your nose for the count of four.
• Then hold this breath for the count of four.
• Next, breathe out slowly through your mouth for the count of four.
• Pause for the count of four.
• Continue to do this for at least three rounds and up to four or five minutes if you have time
In the beginning, if you find it hard to pace your breathing, you could start with a count of three and build up to a count of four. As you become more experienced you could increase to a count of five or focus on a longer outbreath.
BSc (Hons) DipCHyp HPD RCMT
I’m a clinical mindfulness teacher and mindfulness-based therapist and qualified to use clinical hypnosis.
I first started meditating when studying Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, a mindfulness-based therapeutic approach, about twelve years ago. The impact mindfulness meditation had on my life has shaped my career.