Breathing on Purpose

As humans, we are required to breathe each and every day. Just like the plants, we need oxygen, food and water. Unfortunately, we can’t make our food from sunlight.

But breathing. We have control over this one. Lately, I’ve managed the practice of breathing on purpose. Now, if you don’t breathe on purpose, your body will supply oxygen and do your autopilot breathing for you, otherwise well…we wouldn’t be here right now, would we?

Breathe and Listen

Our bodies actually take good care of us. If we listened to our bodies, we would all probably be in wonderful shape, both physically and mentally. Still, some days, life takes over and pushes us over the edge. Those are the days we might catch ourselves and remind ourselves to breathe. Take three deep breaths, you say, and you can handle any situation. Calm yourself. Collect yourself. Recharge.

Whether it’s in the form of autopilot breathing or the intentional de-stressor, breathing is our friend. When we breathe on purpose, we are training our body to initiate this kind of deeper breathing all on its own, the kind of breathing you ask yourself to do when you feel stress or anxiety.

Only with my recent introduction to yin yoga have I been able to breathe on purpose and to make a connection between mind, body, and my environment. I’m a novice, but I feel it’s really made a difference in my life with only a couple of months of practice.

Let’s try some breathing

Here are some things I’ve learned:

Get comfortable: Lay down on your back or relax in a sitting position; dim the lights, and if you like, play some soothing music (check out the sample video). Feel the earth under yourself, no matter where you are.

Ocean breath: Close your eyes, start with an inhale from the belly and an exhale out the mouth with an ocean breath, as if you might fog up a window, but it doesn’t need to be as forceful as that. The inhale should come from a deeper place than your autopilot breathing. Let it fill your chest.

Breath In/Out the Nose: Resume more relaxed breathing in and out the nose; relax the jaw. Feel the space between your neck and shoulders. If you need a release, try an ocean breath.

Let the thoughts float away: You mind will race. Let the thoughts come and go. Think of them as leaves floating away. I have a visual for you below. 

Focus on your breath: Don’t worry if you lose your breathing. Just bring it back and resume the ocean breath.

Environment: If you mind is racing, check in with your environment. This helps you to be aware of your present moment. What noises do you hear? Do you feel the air over your skin? Make note of it and bring back your breath.

A specific focus: Sometimes a focus on something specific can be the breathing. Can you hear your heartbeat? Check in. You can also do some internal chanting: An “Ah” on your inhale and an “Om” on the exhale. Whatever sounds you choose.

Try a specific length of time: Try breathing for the length of a song and increase it as you like.

The most important thing is to relax. This is time for you.

Let the thoughts float away:

Breathing on purpose has given me that clarity of focus not unlike those matrix-like moments when the action slows and you can focus on the separate parts from the whole. That clarity of focus is you listening to your body.

Tune in next week when I will talk about how this listening to your body can help improve how you listen to the people in your life.

Here’s some soothing music from Garth Stevenson:


42 thoughts on “Breathing on Purpose

  1. Interesting to read this now, because just yesterday I tried a six-minute meditation a blogger had videotaped for her blog. I never meditate. The fast-mover in me doesn’t like to take the time and feels silly. But people rave about it, so I gave it a go. It was nice, but if I keep doing it, I need to learn how to keep my thoughts from going all over. They don’t want to stay still!

    Great post, Amy. I’ll incorporate your advice the next time I try it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Honestly, I’ve never been able to mediate until I tried the yin yoga. It’s something about the mind-body connection and breathing through a pose that has made it easier for me to relax and let my mind be still. I almost included a little stretch here but I thought it was too much. Maybe in my next post. If you have thoughts flying through your brain, don’t worry. That’s totally normal. Make note of them and let them go. Tell them you’ll see them in five minutes. 🙂 I think the more you do it, the easier it gets.


    2. It takes a LONG TIME to hone and perfect a breathing meditation. Your progress is so incremental that you barely notice it. It took me years. But it’s WORTH IT. You can practice anytime. Wherever you go, your breath is right there with you. I would suggest you stick with it. It’s a lot of work but the benefits can be profound. I can lie in bed at night and completely clear the noise out of my head. It’s a great weapon to have in your arsenal. As I said, it’s a long road to get there but it’s worth the effort.


      1. I think it can really help with this, too. Just don’t worry if you start thinking or if your mind just races when you first start this. It’s like re-training your brain from its normal thought patterns. Mark is right. It will take time (although the yin yoga is making a huge difference for me!). I can’t say enough good things about it.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Just reading this was very calming and soothing but I must point out not everyone has control over their breathing. I have severe asthma that is under control but would limit how I do this. Still, I will be trying this for the next few mornings in a modified way because like I said, just reading it was calming and seems like a great way to start the day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good point, Diane. I’m glad you mentioned that not everyone has control over their breathing. I didn’t consider that. I apologize. I hope that you can make some modifications and make it work for you. Let me know how it goes. I’m glad you found it calming. Good to hear.


    1. Hey, I guess I am serious about this breathing on purpose. It didn’t occur to me to make it funny although I guess I could have tried. I didn’t want anything to get lost. I actually cut 200 words from this post. 🙂 I wanted it to be succinct and simple. I’m glad I could make you laugh anyhow! Love to you too, Miss Shalagh. xo

      Liked by 1 person

  3. We take it for granted, yet our lives depend on it! Brilliant post, Amy! It’s fun trying various types of breathing. I started off with Kriya – [cycle of breaths where you count inhalation pauses and exhalation] but shamed to say nowadays life gets in the way of my breathing! Oh well, thank goodness for the autopilot! 😉 …and a little app I downloaded from Thich Nhat Hanh’s site called the ‘mindfullness bell’ which reminds me to pause! [] Have a wonderful day – evening and rest of this week …AH and happy autumn equinox!!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I always feel so much better when I breathe on purpose. It makes my autopilot breathing feel a lot less shallow. Thanks for sharing all your wonderful ideas. I know there are so many methods, etc. I tried one the other day where you breathed on nostril and out the other. It was too much concentration for me at that time. Maybe that’s advanced breathing techniques and I’m not ready. I’ll have to check out that app. I could use a mindfulness bell! Great idea! Happy Autumn Equinox to you too, Marina! I’m ready!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This all sounds very healthy, mellow and positive, Amy, but I think that I’m simply too Type A these days. I’ve been on such overload in recent months, the second I close my eyes for more than three seconds, I’m not meditating I’m snoring.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, you might try it out. See if it gives you more energy throughout your day. Mornings when I have my yin yoga I feel more calm during the day. I can understand though. You have a lot on your plate!


  5. Earlier this year, I got to know a co-worker a little better than I had. She is very much into yoga, meditation and breathing. Regularly, when we talk about the stressors in my life, her response is “just breathe.” “Breathe!” “Breathe, breathe, breathe.” It’s been a while since I’ve been able to talk to her much and I have lost track of that and I think I feel the difference. Your post is perfect. It provides a nice little instruction manual for how to go about doing it and, you know, if we can’t find a few minutes to breathe each day …

    Thank you for this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I imagine it’s hard to breathe when someone is telling you to do it. It’s kind of like “relax.” As soon as someone tells you to relax, you’re no longer relaxed and can’t! I know that feeling. Some of the items in my list are probably obvious, but you know, it can’t hurt to throw it out there. Thanks so much! Aww,smiles. I’m so happy you found it helpful and useful. Just a few minutes each day. Try it out and see if it makes a difference. You’re welcome.


      1. My co-worker just reminds me to remember to breathe every now and then. For me, it doesn’t hurt to have that voice in my head. In a few minutes, I’ll be done with my morning email/internet check and will have about an hour before I have to get ready for work. Breathing coming up.


  6. I felt relaxed just reading this! I definitely never take specific time just to relax like this, I must learn to. Even if I sit and watch TV, I’ll be leaping up during each commercial break to do a quick job like put away dishes! Stop and breathe Vanessa…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Great! I’m so thrilled. Vanessa, I know that feeling of trying to relax when watching TV. I used to do that when we had cable. Now, we don’t and just watch Netflix. So, actually I will sit uninterrupted and watch a show. So much better! I hope you can start some breathing! Just give it a try. I think it’s really helped me.


  7. At the beginning of the semester, as I added classes to my calendar I made a note to myself to “Listen More.” This note repeats every day. It seems simple, but each time I look at my calendar I am reminded to pause and pay attention. I think now I will add another note to remind myself to “Breathe on Purpose”. Thanks, Amy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “Listen more” is a good one, Honie. I think we all could use more work on that. I find breathing helps me listen, too, because I’m not so caught in thinking about what’s next. Breathing on purpose makes me be more in the present moment, for the first time ever. I hope the breathing will help you in the same way. Thank you, Honie.


    1. I think breathing on purpose is like training for those moments in life when we need clarity and mental focus. A routine of breathing can help that along. Like you, I have to remind myself and find the time. Thanks so much, Ken!

      Liked by 1 person

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