I hope that you’ve taken a few moments each day to pause, breathe, and reflect as we celebrate in May, National Meditation Month.
Today I’d like to share with you a simple meditation technique that I have used repeatedly for myself and have taught to many clients. It’s called the 16-Second Breath and it was popularized by spiritual guru, davidji.
The 16-second breath is a simple meditation technique to support you in slowing down your breath, your nervous system, and your heart rate, and bringing you back into the present moment. The 16-second breath is often all we need to pause, reflect, and then respond to situations in a more meaningful and compassionate way. The 16-second breath has the power to quickly change your mood and elevate your vibration.
It’s all about coming back into the present moment.
For anyone who says they don’t have time to meditate — we all have time for 16 seconds right?
Here’s how to practice this powerful technique:
1. A full, complete breath consists of 4 components– a slow and easy inhale through the nose, a pause at the top of the inhale, a slow and steady exhale through the nose, and a pause at the bottom of the exhale before taking in the next inhale.
2. In the 16-second breath, each component of the breath lasts for a count of 4 seconds.
– inhale slowly and naturally for 4 seconds. Keeping your shoulders relaxed and away from your ears. – gently hold the breath at the top for 4 seconds without gasping or tightening the shoulders. – exhale the breath slowly and steadily for 4 seconds, without forcing the breath out in one big breath and gasping for the next breath. Breathe out with control and allow the shoulders to sink and relax a bit more. – Pause at the bottom of the exhale for 4 seconds before taking in your next inhale.
3. Repeat a few cycles. Try this for 3-5 minutes to start or longer if you’re an experienced meditator.
Feel the difference already? That’s how you take a full breath. Powerful isn’t it?
Here are a few common responses I receive from clients after trying this technique for the first time —
“I thought it would be easy to just breathe but I realize that I haven’t been breathing properly”
“I feel like I’m gasping for my next breath.”
“I felt a sense of panic for my next breath.”
“I needed to blow all the air out quickly.”
“I realize that I’m holding my breath throughout the day.”
Our breath is a good indicator of how we move through our lives and how we manage everyday stress and challenges. Are your breaths quick, short, and rapid? Are you a chest breather? Or do you allow a deep, nourishing breath from your lower abdominals and pelvis (your root and sacral chakra)? Do you shrug up your shoulders to your ears during your inhale?
I used to do all of the above. But sense committing to a regular meditation practice for nearly 5 years now, my breath is much more calm, as is my ability to flow through life with greater grace and ease.
And, a true story, my meditation and yoga (a moving meditation) practice taught me how to breathe correctly, which carried me through the Women’s Half Marathon in New York City in 2013. That’s right, I ran 13.2 miles without ever losing my breath or composure. When the race finished, there was no gasping for breath in the least bit. I crossed the finished line and was able to stand up straight and speak as if I had not jut ran 13 miles. To my sister’s astonishment, she said, “aren’t you tired?”
Truthfully, I wasn’t and I could have kept going thanks to my breath that supported me along the way.
Was this enough incentive to get you to try meditating? I hope so!
If you’re looking to elevate your fitness game, this powerful breathing technique, as well as any consistent meditation practice, will support you in achieving greater goals.
Remember, your breath is your energy and healing elixir. It is the nourishment you give to your cells, your tissues, your blood, and your organs, including your brain. Your breath is your barometer through and of life, it is your navigational system, and it is the closest, most trusted, and most reliable part of you.
Take time today to notice your breath and just breathe…
With Love & Gratitude,
Photo courtesy of Ryan Amaral, Bermuda