[MEDITATION] 4 x 4 Breathing Exercise


This is Ami's favorite exercise to go back to when life starts to spin a little out of control. The power of slowing your breath and in turn slowing your body and mind is truly remarkable. When you slow your breathing, you train your body to slow everything else down, including chemical responses associated with anxiety. This exercise takes 4 minutes.

Find a quiet spot where you won't be interrupted. Sit cross-legged or comfortably on the floor or upright in a chair (basically be comfy and don't be schlumpy.) 

Set a timer on your phone for 4 minutes. (Pro tip: make the timer music something that isn't horribly jarring. Ami likes "Ripples" on the iPhone.)

Close your eyes.

Inhale for 4 counts. As you inhale, think of inhaling all the positive things that you need, whatever that may be: calm, peace, courage, abundance, power.

Exhale for 4 counts. As you exhale, think of pushing out all the shit that you do not need. Peace out fear, anxiety, nausea, worry.

Repeat this exercise, and as you do, slowly slow down your counting. If you initially inhaled for 4 seconds (obviously you are counting in your head, and NOT checking the timer!), see if you can spread that out to 8. You will do this naturally as you settle.

When the timer goes off, open your eyes and see how you feel. This may not feel profound in the moment, but you've just done really good work.

Repeat this exercise 3 more times that day (it's only 16 minutes of your life, total!). You will probably find that your body quickly learns how to slow down. It will become easier to slow your breathing. For the world to drift away. For those four minutes, be in your own head, and give yourself that time.

This exercise literally transformed Ami from a puking anxious rower in high school to a calm, zen athlete. JUST BY BREATHING. Worth a shot, isn't it? We all deserve to give ourselves the gift of 16 minutes of breath a day.


Ami Watkin