Last fall, I had the opportunity to learn a mindfulness practice called The 1-Minute Breath. The technique is simple: set a timer for one minute of breathing, put your hands on your abdomen, then inhale and exhale slowly, keeping track of the number of inhales you take.
The objective is to breathe fully and deeply. In fact, the slower the better. I decided to try it with my clients the very next day.
As a holistic occupational therapist, I work with children and adolescents ages 3-12. With some simple variations, I found that everyone could practice The 1-Minute Breath. It left them feeling calm and refreshed. It made our sessions more productive and enjoyable, and it was easy for my clients to practice this technique on their own.
But The 1-Minute Breath didn’t change my life because it made my clients calmer and more focused. It changed my life because I did it too.
Why It’s A Game Changer
When I started practicing The 1-Minute Breath, I was no stranger to recognizing when I needed a break. I often acknowledged, either verbally or mentally, that I “needed a minute” before responding or taking action.
But after taking a minute to diffuse some rising tension or anxiety, too often I would quickly find myself right back in the spot I was hoping to avoid. The 1-Minute Breath made me see that the problem was not the length of the break, but what I was doing in that time.
I found that I often used my minute to replay, ruminate, anticipate, or strategize. Instead of leaving me feeling more centered, my breaks were actually escalating my stress. Whoa.
Instead of digging me in deeper, The 1-Minute Breath frees me up. By making a change in how I feel in my body, it also makes a real change in my mind. It gives me the space I need to shift my thinking, my approach, or my expectations. It allows me to listen more and react less. It opens the door to possibilities and leads to better outcomes.
Why It’s A Time Saver
Breathing for one minute during each of my treatment sessions ensured that I was fully present with each client I worked with. It made me feel more connected, attentive and responsive.
I quickly saw that every minute of self-care increased my ability to provide better care to others.
In addition to paying off in the moment, The 1-Minute Breath had a cumulative effect. At the end of the day, I no longer felt depleted. I had more energy to devote to my family. I noticed myself re-engaging in activities I loved, but had pushed to the side because I didn’t have the time, or was too tired to focus mentally or creatively after work.
I took out my baking pans and crafting supplies. I started writing again. Instead of zoning out, I was zeroing in. The return on my one-minute investment was hours of enjoyment added to my day.
Why It’s A No-Brainer
The 1-Minute Breath takes just one minute. I know this is obvious, but it bears repeating because time, or the lack thereof, is always one of the biggest obstacles for compliance with any mindfulness or wellness practice.
The 1-Minute Breath virtually eliminates this issue by making conscious breathing available to me any time I have 60 seconds to spare. That means every day offers 1,440 opportunities for me to do something absolutely wonderful to change the way I think and feel.
The 1-Minute Breath isn’t just for kids. And it isn’t just for therapists. It doesn’t require any equipment or special training. It doesn’t demand too much commitment. And it doesn’t cost a dime. If you’ve got a minute, it could be for you.
Just think, in less time than it took you to read this, you could be on your way to changing your life. Why not take a minute and see?