Use Breathing Techniques to Become Present in the Moment

Breathe in and out. Stay with the present moment

Inhale the future, exhale the past. Somewhere between the two, is now, the present moment. Focus your attention on your breath as it enters and exits the body to help you stay present, experiencing life in real time. Being able to gain and maintain focus without drifting forward or backward in our minds, has many benefits. Breathing techniques can be used to accomplish this goal. With them, we gain clarity, open a door to our creativity, and become more grounded. We’re able to become more in tune with our emotions, and therefore are less controlled by them. Harnessing our attention is vital in making changes, personal growth, and productivity.

Try These Five Breathing Techniques

These practices will help calm the mind, center you, and draw your attention in.

1st Breathing Technique: Observation

The breath can be watched, or tracked. Try following your breath as it enters through the nose, flows down into the lungs, and leaves by way of the mouth. Then try focusing on just the inhale. How does your breath feel, moving into your body? Is it cool or warm, as it enters? Does the temperature change as it fills your lungs?

2nd Breathing Technique: Reframing the Process

One of my favorite techniques involves changing the way we perceive breathing. Think of the exhale as being the first half of the process, and the inhale as a response. Try to slow down, extending your exhale, but just let the inhale happen naturally.

3rd Variation: Compartmented Breathing

Think of your lungs as having three distinct parts: a top, middle, and bottom.

When you’re breathing into the top of your lungs, you can feel your chest rise. When you’re breathing into the middle of your lungs, your ribs expand outward. When you’re breathing into the bottom of your lungs, your belly rises.

Return to the present moment, again and again
Return to the present moment, again and again

Top Down Breathing Technique

  • On each inhale, focus on filling the top, middle, then bottom of your lungs
  • As you exhale, keep the same order, emptying the top, middle, then bottom of your lungs
  • Optional variation: engage your muscles to press the air out of the bottom compartment

Bottom Up Breathing Technique

  • On each inhale, focus on filling the bottom, middle, then top of your lungs
  • As you exhale, keep the same order, emptying the bottom, middle, then top of your lungs

Top Down Wave

  • On each inhale, focus on filling the top, middle, then bottom of your lungs
  • As you exhale, reverse the order, emptying the bottom, middle, then top of your lungs
  • Stay present in the moment, as you repeat the process

Bottom Up Wave

  • On each inhale, focus on filling the bottom, middle, then top of your lungs
  • As you exhale, reverse the order, emptying the top, middle, then bottom of your lungs
  • Optional variation: engage your muscles to press the air out of the bottom compartment
Breathing techniques can be used to focus your mind on your breath
Breathing techniques can be used to focus your mind on your breath

Box Breathing

  • Focus your attention on your breath
  • Breathe in for a count of 4, or whatever number feels comfortable
  • Hold for the same amount of time
  • Exhale for your chosen count
  • Hold again
  • Repeat the entire process
  • Over time, you may increase the count to 5 or 6

4-7-8 Breathing, or Relaxing Breath

  • Bring your attention to the present moment
  • Inhale for 4 counts
  • Hold for 7 counts
  • Exhale, slowly, for 8 counts
  • Repeat the entire process

Focus Your Attention Throughout the Day

Because these breathing techniques aren’t time consuming, they can be done many times during the day. When you first wake up, a few deep breaths can set your mood. Breathing before a meal can remind you to approach eating mindfully. Stress can be released with a few nice, long breaths. When you lie down at night, focusing your attention can help you drift off sooner, and sleep more soundly.

There will never be a better time to visit the present moment!

Author profile

Hi! I write books and blogs about wellness and adopting healthy living habits. My first children's picture book, Gabby Makes a Friend, is available at Amazon. I’ve been teaching sociology courses at community colleges since. Beyond work, I'm the proud mother of two beautiful, adult children. I’m a recovering perfectionist, whose hobbies include meditation, cooking, hiking, and yoga.

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