Just One Breath


People ask me regularly, “How do I practice mindfulness in the moment? What if I don’t have an hour for meditation every day? What can I do?”

Here is a simple recommendation.

Take a breath. That’s right….just take a breath and focus on that breath. Human beings take more than 23,000 breaths a day. This means, today only, we each have 23,000 opportunities to give it a try.

What does “take a breath” mean? Practicing it is probably better than reading about it.

So first, direct your full attention to the breath. Take a deep inhale, through the nose only. Pause at the top of the inhale. Gently release the breath on an exhale. That’s it. Done. If it happened too quickly, feel free to try it again. Deep breath in. Pause. Release…slowly.

Stay with that for two more breaths. Physiologically, this deep breath, pause, slow release activates our parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for slowing the heart rate, aiding in digestion, conserving energy and creating calm.

Then, let go of any controlled breathing and let your natural breath flow in and out. Observe the breath. What does that mean?

As you breath, consider a few of these questions:

  • Where in the body do I feel the breath?

  • What is the quality of the breath?

  • Is there a texture associated with the inhale or the exhale?

  • Do I hear the breath?

  • What does it feel like in the body when the length of the inhale or exhale changes?

  • Can I see my abdomen moving with the breath?

  • Do I feel any tension or tightening in the body as the breath travels in and out? Across the forehead? In the jaw? In my hands? In my belly?

  • Can I relax anywhere in the body, just a bit more, as I breathe?

Notice the breath.

Feel the breath.

Drop into the envelope of the body, as the breath travels in and travels out.

When we direct our attention to the breath, we create a space. This space, amidst the chaos and frenetic pace of modern life, helps us to focus, regulate emotions, and cultivate awareness. We can focus on the breath at any time, in any place, for any duration, in any posture—reclining, standing, sitting or walking. Give it a try…

We’ll be practicing many “mindfulness in the moment” tips at our October Retreat, Invitation to Be. Join us! And, if the October Retreat is not an option for you, check out our guided meditations and resources for ways to learn and practice mindfulness. Enjoy…


Ashley Nelson