As much as we'd all love to be more mindful, take time for ourselves, and quiet our busy brains from time to time, meditation simply isn't for everyone. But just because you're someone who can't get into meditation doesn't mean you can't reap the physical, emotional, and psychological benefits of the practice.
Elizabeth McCourt, a certified executive coach who's also an avid yogi and triathlete, knows how difficult meditation can be for many of her clients (and even herself initially) and has found a more accessible technique to capture your calm. Sharing her method in MindBodyGreen, she says, "I have a secret weapon that is a lot more accessible to the masses: three deep breaths."
McCourt instructs to breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth, deeply and fully, three times. "It calms and refocuses me, and I don't call it anything but what it is: breathing," says McCourt. "No client of mine has ever told me that stopping to take three breaths is too woo-woo or that they don't have time for it, and it's rare that someone hasn't found that it shifts their energy, letting in a feeling of calm."
The short and sweet technique has found support in science. McCourt cites new research from Stanford published in March 2017's Science magazine concluding that "there are neurons in the brain that connect breathing to our state of mind" linked to relaxation, attention, and even anxiety. Take advantage of this accessible mindfulness anytime you need a quick mental break to reset.
While there are many different types of breathing techniques, McCourt suggests starting simple with these three deep breaths. Then take three more. "But don't do it once and give up," she warns. "Play with it for at least a week, and see what happens when you direct your energy to this simple task."
Now discover the best breathwork for you based on your personality type.