Distress Tolerance: Observing Your Breath

A diagnosis of depression and/or a mental disorder can be overwhelming, at first. Trying to understand symptoms along with appropriate techniques for resolution can be frustrating as well because it is different for every individual. Meditation has become an important part of my life. Before I go into this coping skill (observing your breath) any further, I would like to mention another fact, to me, that is imperative on your road to stability/recovery. Let go of fighting with reality!!! Acceptance is the only way out of hell, so to speak. It is acknowledging what is and deciding to not only tolerate the moment or situation but having the awareness to seek out skills that will equip you towards significant progress. I will list a few exercises that may help:

Observing Your Breath

Focus your attention on your breath, coming in and out. Observe your breathing as a way to center yourself in your “wise” mind. Observe your breathing as a way to take hold of your mind, dropping off non-acceptance and fighting reality.

Deep Breathing

Lie on your back. Breathe evenly and gently, focusing your attention on the movement of your stomach. As you begin to breathe in, allow your stomach to rise in order to bring air into the lower half of your lungs. As the upper halves of your lungs begin to fill with air, your chest begins to rise and your stomach begins to lower. Don’t tire yourself. Continue for 10 breaths. The exhalation will be longer than the inhalation.

Breathing To Quiet The Mind And Body

Sit cross-legged on the floor (sit in half or full lotus position if you know how) or sit in a chair with your feet on the floor; or kneel; or lie flat on the floor. Follow your breath. When your mind and body are quiet, continue to inhale and exhale very lightly; be aware that “I am breathing in and making the breath ad body light and peaceful”. Continue for three breaths, giving rise to the thought. Maintain this thought in awareness from 5 to 30 minutes, according to your ability and the time available to you. The beginning and end of the practice should be relaxed and gentle. When you want to stop, gently massage the muscles in your legs before returning to a normal position. Wat a moment before standing up.

These are just a few exercises adapted from The Miracle Of Mindfulness: A Manual of Meditation Thich Nhat Hanh, 1976


Be yourself. There is no one better.

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