Five Minute Mindful Breathing Exercise

Posted on August 5th, 2013

Breathing is the most fundamental behavior that we engage in every day and yet we are unaware of it unless we are breathing hard. Becoming mindful of your breathing might seem easy, but it is not, as you will discover when you do this simple exercise. Mindful breathing is a skill that can be learned with practice.1

  1. Find a space where you can sit comfortably without any distractions for 5 minutes. You can sit longer if you like but 5 minutes is a good way to start.

  2. Set a timer for 5 minutes. Sit upright with your hands gently resting on your lap. Close your eyes lightly.

  3. Notice the natural rhythm of your breathing and the sensations you experience, wherever they are for you—in your chest, in your belly, in your nose or mouth. Simply notice your breath as you breathe in and out, in and out. Don’t try to regulate your breathing by making the breath faster or slower, deeper or shallower. Just allow your breathing to occur as it does. Simply becomes aware of your breathing.

  4. When your mind wanders to anything other than your breath, notice that you are thinking about something else and gently shift your back to your breath. You may have to refocus on your breath many times, and that is alright, it happens to everyone.

  5. Continue to just be aware of your breath until you hear your timer. You may feel relaxed and calm, so you may choose to continue for a little bit longer. When you’re ready, gradually expand your attention and gently open your eyes with the intention of bringing this focused attention (mindfulness) to your experiences throughout the day.

Practice this exercise daily for at least a week and you will begin to notice positive changes your awareness, attention, memory, interaction with other people, and overall well-being. This simple breathing exercise is a good foundation become a more mindful observer in your daily life.

Visual Summary

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  1. Spiegler, M. D., & Guevremont, D. C. (2010). Contemporary behavior therapy (5th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning. 

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