At any therapy, mindfulness session, DBT book, or whatever, the first thing discussed is how to breathe.
Like what the hell man, I already know how to breathe!
No, no you don’t.
It’s super easy. I promise. Anyone can do this.
Take a deep breath counting into five through your nose. Now take a deep breath out counting to five via your mouth.
Annnndddd you’re done.
You can do breath work anytime and anywhere. When you’re driving, watching TV, or before you go to sleep. A good rule of thumb is work on your breath work for about a minute at a time. It’s especially helpful when you’re in a crisis, stressed, or your mind is amped.
Learning how to breathe, properly breathe, creates a present moment. It may not feel like it, but you are here. Now. In this space. Your only focus is on the body as you breathe in and then breathe out. Because you’re being present, the mind starts to slow down. Literally all the therapy I’ve been through and DBT books I’ve worked through use breath work in the very beginning because it can often help someone who is in crisis to calm down and to relax.
My favorite phrase is “That shit is hard, yo!” when I talk about being mindful, and I’ll probably overuse that phrase, but learning how to breathe is hard work. Even now as I write this, and I’m coming down from week long manic episode, I am breathing in for five through my nose and breathing out for five via the mouth as I type but my first inclination is to rush through it. I don’t want to be here.
So, I stopped writing and worked on breath work for a minute and I felt like I could physically feel the pushback. My mind is screaming, “We are just fine, thank you!” but I know it’s half-truth. My brain is mostly fine with the legit drugs but it’s not wholly fine and that’s what I’m looking to work through.
My brain can be an asshole at times.
I’m writing about breath work and I just completed a cycle of breath work but I feel like nothing has changed but it has. That is totally OK. One thing I will drill in your head as much as I need to drill it in mine is being mindful is about practice. There is no gold star, no ending, no grand prize at the end. Some days it’s going to really fucking suck and other days you’re going to feel amazing.
You can do breath work any time you want and how many times a day you want. There is no limit. Sometimes I do it before I drive because driving can often give me anxiety. Other times when I’m spacing out (lack of awareness of anything or anywhere), I will snap back and do breath work to remind myself I am physically in this body at this very moment in time. When I feel my anger rising, and if you’re bipolar holy fuck does it get amped, I try and stop to do breath work before something terrible comes out of my mouth.
Even if my mind is not a calm place, doing breath work totally brings me to the moment. I can take stock and say, “Okay, Lisa. You’re about to get angry over a stupid thing. Take a step back and chill.” Even just thinking of doing breath work before I explode is being present.
Don’t forget to breathe today and remind yourself you are very much here.