Three Stage Breathing Space

The breathing space is a short practice that provides a way to step out of automatic pilot mode and reconnect to the present moment. It can be used at any time and can be particularly helpful if we are feeling stressed or overwhelmed.

Stage 1: Awareness

Bring yourself into the present moment by deliberately adopting an erect and dignified posture. If possible, close your eyes. Then bring the focus of your awareness to your inner experience and ask:

“What is my experience right now … in thoughts … in feelings … and in bodily sensations?”

It may be helpful to put the experience into words e.g. “self-critical thoughts are here” or

“a feeling of anger is arising”

As best you can, fully register and acknowledge your experience, even if it is unwanted.

Stage 2: Gathering Attention

Then, gently redirect full attention to the breath. Follow the breath all the way in and all

the way out. Perhaps noting “Breathing in…Breathing out” or counting “Inhaling one…Exhaling one; Inhaling two…Inhaling two”. Your breath can function as an anchor to

bring you into the present and help you tune into a state of awareness and stillness.

Stage 3: Expanding Attention

Allow the field of your awareness to expand around the breath so that it includes a sense

of the whole body, including any discomfort, tension, or resistance. Take your awareness there by “breathing into them” on the in-breath and then breathing out from them on the out-breath, softening and opening with each out-breath and saying to yourself on the out-breath:

“It’s OK, whatever it is – it’s already here. Let me be open to it, let me feel it”

Become aware of and if necessary, adjust your posture, and facial expression.

Segal, Williams & Teasdale (2002) Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Depression