The Secret of Instant Calmness: 3 Ways to Quieten the Mind

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Photo: Peter Kurdulija

Is your mind in a spin? Do you feel stressed? Here are three ways to calm your mind in an instant.

  • The deep breath.

Take a deep breath. Fill your belly and your chest as your inhale deeply. Then release the breath, letting it flow out naturally. Notice how your mind changes when you do this. The deep breath can help you in difficult situations. For example, if you feel a surge of anger and are just about to lash out, taking a deep breath allows you to retain control of yourself. Use the deep breath often during the day. It is especially useful when you are feeling uptight or angry: it can release you from the grip of strong emotions. When you take a deep breath, you regain an overview over what is happening. It’s as if you are call forth your innate power of wisdom.

  • The sigh

Another technique of instant calmness is the sigh. Draw the air in rapidly through your nose or mouth and expel it with a whoosh. Try it and notice what happens. The sigh is a release technique. Use it to let go of pent-up worries or to untangle the mind. For example, if you are at work and are trying to hold too many thoughts in your mind, simply stop what you are doing for a moment and sigh.

  • The slow release

Inhale through your nose with energy and exhale through your mouth very slowly while counting to ten. As you breathe out, let your shoulders drop. This is a very powerful way to calm the mind and relax tension in the body. Use it if your mind is very scattered. For example, if you are meditating and find that your mind is running wild, take three slow release breaths to settle your mind.

Experiment with one-breath calmness techniques. You may find that one of the three works particularly well for you, or that each one works best in particular circumstances. If you work at a computer a lot of the time, try installing a break reminder program. You can set it up so that a pop-up reminds you of taking mini-breaks. Try and use it to take a calming breath each time.

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  1. Ewan says:

    These suggestions seem helpful – thanks Mary.

    I personally would love to hear more sighing around!

    This is a bit of a tangent, but, in my experience, I have found it was possible to go overboard with deep breathing. A few years ago I read somewhere about the deep quality of breathing in samadhi, and ended up trying to emulate the breathing as much as possible, as if that would somehow “bring the samadhi on.” What it brought on was a forced breath and a tightness in the body. Maybe the importance of letting the body breathe was something I had to learn the hard way.

  2. Mary Jaksch says:

    It’s a fine line between ‘just letting the breath be’ and ‘using the breath to deepen focus’. I think there’s a case for using deep breathing to enable one to settle and focus. But if we force the breath, we’re just winding up the body, instead of relaxing.

    I found early on -this was long before I ended up in Zen- that the long outbreath sent me into such a deep state of samadhi that I couldn’t easily find my way out. When I found Zen and started working with koans, I experimented with my particular breathing technique and found that I could use it to really bear down and focus deeply on koans.

    It’s quite difficult for me to teach this technique because it’s something that I’ve learned to do instinctively.

  3. Ari says:

    Love your practical knowledge on calmness,good exercise for martial arts practisioner

  4. M. Anwar Qureshi says:

    very useful practical advice to quieten the mind which is important in this fast life and surely it will help a lot.

  5. Trent M. says:

    You know, it’s funny how often even people not used to using meditation or breathing techniques in the way that you or others interested in this area still use deep breaths or long sighs to relax.
    Honestly, I knew this worked long before my developed interest in meditation but never did it.
    I’ll certainly begin to incorporate this into my life from here on.
    Thanks for another lovely article, Ms. Jaksch!

  6. Carl Foster says:

    Hello I would like to get into meditation as I find, that I do worrie and urgently need to do somthing about it. I’m concerned that if I dont live a more calm life, I will eventually damage my health through constant worring about my bills, my partner, my car just about everything these days, and it as started to bring me bad luck all this worrying.

    Pleaase Help me

    • Anand Mahajan says:

      Do pranayams suggested and taught by great Indian sages. Baba Ramdev of Patanjali yogpeeth , Haridwar (India) is an exponent. He and his disciples teach it free of cost.
      I faced same problems but benefitted a lot.

  7. Hari says:

    Thanks a lot Mary for these very helpful tips.

    One more added dimension that helps this process is focusing attention (as much) to the act of breathing itself…Observing the breathing in/out.


  8. […] já existe um texto (traduzido do The Secret of Instant Calmness: 3 Ways to Quieten the Mind. Leia aqui) do Ronaud Pereira que aborda as dicas que eu quero passar. Então, como somos inteligentes o […]

  9. gideon says:

    hi love the article on being calm through the breathing methods

  10. The breathing methods are really excellent advice from you. Thank you for interesting topic.

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