The Discipline of 100 Breaths

Go ahead. Try it. It really only takes 100 breaths to change your mental state. Believe me, I am not the best role model for meditation, relaxation, or contemplation. Being busy doing what I love is as satisfying as it is stressful for me. I can go for weeks without really stopping which is probably not a good thing.

Eventually, we do need to stop, and finding ways to do that can be very challenging. Consequently, many of us fail to find the time, focus, or energy to integrate those healthful ways of being into our daily lives.

But what if I told you it takes less than 2 minutes to stop completely and relax your mind, body, and spirit? Through the Discipline of 100 Breaths you can disengage from:

Stress Fear  Tension  Grief   Anger  Worry

Obsession   Demands of others  Perfections  Cravings

Anxiety  Hostility Frustration  Agitation  Overexcitement

-and whatever else is charging up your inner emotional state.

If you can do three things and ONLY three things you can change your internal state:

1  Find a quiet place to stand, sit or lie down and close your eyes.

2  Take 100 breaths in and out, in and out. Not fancy deep breaths, -in one second, out the next. They don’t need to be fast, or slow, deep or shallow. Just 100 normal breaths.

3  (Now here’s the hard part) ONLY Breathe. Pay attention to your breathing alone for 100 breaths. No planning, worrying, fretting about one thing or another. Literally for a moment.

That final step is difficult and some of us will fail at that point, usually because our anxiety is so extreme or our ability to focus is impaired or undisciplined. But if you fail the first time, you can train your brain to cooperate, simply with practice.

Give it a try and enjoy your refreshed, calmed state of mind.

Faith as a resource

As a pastoral counselor, I am a specialist in helping people connect their faith to their efforts to improve their emotional or psychological wellbeing. Some people have had very bad experiences with religious folks imposing their own personal beliefs upon them, with an attitude of authority and condemnation. Condemning others for having questions, doubts, or different experiences and beliefs is considered a failure in most religious traditions. This sort of religious intolerance is the farthest thing from the practice of pastoral counseling, and often causes serious damage to human wellbeing. Pastoral counselors create affirming and challenging space for the client’s faith to speak, and helps people uncover the resources they are already carrying within.

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