You read the title, now do it!!  ‘Just B-R-E-A-T-H-E!’

No, not just one breath…take at least 3 breaths…

How about 3 slow, deep belly breaths in and long slow exhales out.

Close your eyes and ‘just notice.’

Return to your normal breath.


Did your shoulders relax (sometimes referred to as ‘lowering your shoulder earrings’)?  Did your jaw relax?  Did your hands unclench?  Did you have to shake your head a bit to bring yourself back to your ‘normal’ awareness?  Did you find yourself smiling?  If these sensations are new or foreign to you, it’s called ‘relaxation!!’

In that less than 30-second exercise in ‘mindfulness,’ you reset your autonomic nervous system to a ‘rest and digest mode’ vs. ‘alert’ mode.  Alert mode in essence is fight, flight, freeze mode, during which your adrenals switch from sending ‘feel good’ hormones like serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin to sending ‘alert’ hormones like cortisol and adrenaline into our body to ‘protect’ you.  Protect you from what you might ask?  Protect you from ‘real’ or ‘imaginary’ threats to your safety.

Many of our days find us running on ‘auto-pilot,’ which is excellent if we had to deal with saber-tooth tigers around every corner.  Not sure when any of us last faced a ‘real’ saber-tooth tiger vs our countless ‘imaginary’ tigers like oversleeping and having to start our day in a rush, getting stuck in traffic, over-committing, facing a hungry family because you forgot to defrost something for dinner, facing a performance review, and the like.

Our bodies don’t know the difference unless we engage our consciousness to shut out the ‘imaginary’ tigers which in turn shuts down the ‘alert’ hormones, and replaces them with ‘calming, feel-good’ hormones calming hormones.  AHHHH…doesn’t that feel better?


One way we can do that is through ‘consciously’ breathing for a few minutes a couple of times a day.

The act of breathing is on auto-pilot, as is our digestive, nervous, circulatory, and other bodily systems that bring us life.  Our body blueprint has made it easy for us to live.  However, the great minds in medicine tell us that living involves stress and stress is causing ‘dis-ease’ (disease or imbalance) in our bodies.  The ‘dis-ease’ manifests itself in the form of an ulcer, suppressed immune system, habits that over time don’t serve us well (over-eating or drinking, sleeping too much or too little), angry outbursts, etc.

By ‘consciously’ breathing we engage our brain to focus on the act (and art) of breathing.  This focused action is very healthful and helpful to our overall well-being in that moment to calm and relax us, reset our attitude, and even help us sleep,   It also supports the growth of new brain cells (neuroplasticity) for long-term positive brain health.

Our brain is designed to always be ‘doing/thinking’ something.

If you’re thinking negatively about yourself or someone else, once you realize that you’re doing that, ‘STOP’ and ‘Just BREATHE consciously’ for a couple of breaths to reset your brain.


To help you in your practice, consider putting a ‘sticker’ or a mark on the back of your cellphone.  Each time you pick up your phone and ‘see’ the ‘sticker’ or mark let it serve as a trigger or reminder to stop what you’re doing and consciously take a deep breath in…possibly count to 4 as you breathe in, hold it a second and then breathe out to the count of 4.  Doing it once is great, but repeating that exercise 3 times has a much greater impact on resetting your nervous system.  That action takes you from ‘fight/flight’ to ‘rest and digest.’  From the sympathetic nervous system to the parasympathetic nervous system.  That’s the mode that will help you see things more clearly in that moment so you can carry on with your day in a more ‘stress-free’ mode.

Now let’s bring the 4 Life Lessons to life.

Let me know how implementing the 4 Life Lessons has supported you.


Summarizing the 4 Life Lessons:

Life Lesson 1:  Be an observer in your own life

Stop a couple of times a day and Notice what’s happening in your body and your mind.  Make a mental note of what you’re noticing.  What are you learning about you?  What’s influencing your bodily or emotional reactions?  People, activities, food???

Life Lesson 2:  Decide what you can control and what you can’t control, know the difference and act accordingly

After you’ve created a couple of data points based upon your observations, is it possible for you to ‘control’ any of the influencers to your bodily or emotional reactions?  Change diet or habits of eating, create boundaries around relationships that might be stressors OR if certain relationships are positively impacting you, find a way to spend more time with those folks or in that environment.

Life Lesson 3:  Where the mind goes, the body follows…so make it positive

Reread the words after ‘OR’ in Life Lesson 2.   Surround yourself with positive people and positive activities including what you read and what you listen to.

Life Lesson 4:  Just B-R-E-A-T-H-E

Your breath is always with you.  Switch out auto-pilot for conscious breathing a couple of times a day.  Notice the difference in your attitude and your ability to respond vs react.

S     Stop
T     Take a ‘conscious’ breath
O    Observe
P     Proceed

Joan Marlow
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