How the three-step breathing space is helping me this school holiday
In honour of half term (and my sanity!) here’s a bonus post for you to enjoy.
It’s only day one and a half of the school holiday. So far we’ve had lost child in the supermarket incident, and trip to town involving a lot of shouting and general chaos-mongering.
The boys are now happily playing their new Piranha Bite game (think Hungry Hippos but with piranhas). Somehow I don’t think the game is going to last too long with the battering it’s getting. Still, the boys are playing fairly happily together – until one of them changes the rules, again! There really is only one rule – use your piranhas to eat as many marbles as possible, so how they keep altering them is beyond me. Creativity I guess!). Anyway, this half term has left me feeling quite frazzled already and there’s still another three and a half days to go.
I’m almost at the end of my eight week mindfulness course which I’m doing via my ‘Mindfulness in eight weeks’ book by Michael Chaskalson. A good job too as it has been helpful and probably is saving my sanity.
The three-step breathing space
One of the key mindfulness techniques is the three-step breathing space which is a mini-meditation. This practice is essential to the ongoing practice of mindfulness and really helps to integrate mindfulness into daily life. The intention is to practise this three times a day at set times, plus as and when needed. And I’ve really needed it over the past couple of days!
Practising the three-step breathing space
The steps are as follows:
Sit or stand in a comfortable position, preferably in a quiet place.
- Think about how you’re feeling right now. What thoughts are you having? Feelings? Sensations in your body? The trick here is to just acknowledge and accept what you’re feeling in this moment. Try not to assign any additional commentary or judgement.
- Focus on your breathing. Move away from thoughts and feelings and bring awareness to your breath. Follow your breath in and then out. “This helps to steady and settle the mind in the present moment” (Rebecca Crane – “Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy”). Continue to do this for a short time. Don’t worry about how you’re breathing, you don’t need to breathe in a particular way, it’s just about focusing your awareness and stopping that train of thought.
- Become aware of your whole body as you breathe. This helps to expand your attention to the wider experience. Use your breath to anchor you and notice if you feel tense anywhere. Try to breathe into any tension to relax it.
This practice should only take around 3 minutes, though I usually spend longer on step two as I enjoy having the much needed headspace. Admittedly I do practise occasionally while the boys are busy creating havoc. I think it takes some doing to screen out that noise and the endless thoughts of ‘Oh God, they’re going to break something, or themselves!’ or ‘my cushions are not a trampoline!!’
I do try to practise when it’s quiet too, like when the boys are in bed. Though this only takes three minutes it can be tricky to remember to do and I haven’t assigned any set times to it yet. But it is helpful and I would thoroughly recommend using it. I’m going to continue with it during this half term and hopefully won’t have to use my scary mummy voice quite so much.
Now, it sounds like Piranha Bite has finished…time to go and rescue those cushions!
Do you use the three-step breathing space? Do you find it works? Let me know below!