three-step breathing practice

How the three-step breathing space is getting me through half-term


three-step breathing practice

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.

  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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!

Author: Mindfully Mummy

Sarah is a writer and mum to two energetic boys. She practises mindfulness daily and loves sharing practical mindful tips with fellow parents. Sarah has a degree in psychology, writes at Blue Fox Copywriting and blogs for various sites about lifestyle, careers, parenting and well-being.


  1. Another post with great ideas! These techniques are quick and simple, but it is amazing how just a little ‘head space,’ and being aware of your breathing, can make such a big difference to how you are thinking and feeling. Your half term sounds like it demanded maximum use of your mindful techniques!
    Thanks for sharing with us at #bigpinklink!

  2. Such a useful post. I try to do some mindful breathing throughout the day or take whatever I’m doing and use it as a mindfulness practice. I often do a longer meditation once the kids are in bed but it’s the little mindful moments throughout the day that help me a lot.

    • Hi Natalie, thanks for commenting. Using little mindful actions during the day is so helpful isn’t it? Have you done a mindfulness course at all or do you used guided meditation? I’ve just finished Michael Chaskalson’s Mindfulness in 8 weeks book which has a CD of guided meditations (most are around 10 minutes). I dip into ‘Mindfulness: finding peace in a frantic world’ too.

  3. I’ve tried techniques like this before but find I don’t have the patience! This has been a very busy half term for us and we’ve all been unwell too so I think we’ve all lacked a bit of energy and patience. However we did have a lovely holiday. I need to work more on my mindfulness as I think it would do me the world of good!

    • Hi Kat, glad you managed to have a good holiday despite being ill. We’ve all been poorly on and off since before Xmas which has been really frustrating and caused frayed tempers all round! You’re right, mindfulness does take practice but the effort is definitely worthwhile. I’ve been following an 8 week programme (in week 8 now, yay!) and it’s become a habit to think mindfully and to take a few minutes out at certain points in the day to do some breathing.

      I’ve read somewhere that it takes 40 days for a habit to become ingrained – have you tried a mindfulness app on your phone? I’m yet to try them but I think you can set some of them to give you reminders during the day. I’d also recommend Padraig O’Morain’s book – Mindfulness on the go. It’s really quick to read and has some short but practical tips 🙂 Good luck x

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