Perhaps the most difficult part of mindfulness and meditation is making time for it. Taking a quick pause to refresh has innumerable benefits on mind and body. Yet with an impending to-do list how on earth can you make room to sit, rest and relax? With 10 breaths. Here is where you, your busy life and meditation can meet in the middle for a little 10 breath pow-wow.
This breathing practice is a simple one. Count backwards from 10 to zero. The short and sweet structure gives the mind something to follow, and has a clear end in sight. It is perfect for those new to meditation. I was introduced to this practice by my first yoga teacher, Mary Bastien. She would often start the class with this technique or use it at the end of class to prepare for relaxation. I still use this breathing technique to start my home yoga practice or to unwind before bed, but most often I practice this as a midday reset. Stuck on a problem, feeling overwhelmed and/or over-caffeinated? Ready to chuck this whole life thing and move to Mexico? It’s time to give myself 10 breaths to reset.
If possible sit or lay somewhere cozy… crammed on a muni train works as well. Close your eyes, or keep eyes open with a soft focus. Take deep and slow breaths in, and with each exhale count backwards one number. Start from 10 and end with zero. Feel that every time you exhale you let go a little, as if you are literally lightening your load. Let go of physical, mental or emotional tension as you exhale. By the time you reach zero feel that you have released all unneeded tension and stress, leaving you relaxed and at ease.
If by the time you reach zero you are ready to jet back to work, totally fine. You did it. Check it off the list. Yet, often times after 10 breaths my stressed-out self has made a complete 180, and instead I take a little more time to sit and savor the experience.
Just 10 breaths. Anytime, anywhere. Enjoy!
Karly Railsback is a certified massage therapist and yoga teacher who lives, works and plays in San Francisco. She offers massage therapy and teaches yoga and meditation in public, private and corporate settings. Book sessions or learn more here.