The Key To Overcoming Anxiety: The 4-8-12 Breath
The secret to overcoming anxiety isn’t really a secret; it’s presence, and the key to maintaining that presence is through our breath.
An emotion like anxiety typically stems from our thought patterns, which seeps into our emotions to create a physical sensation in our body like a tight chest or a knotted stomach.
The deeper and steadier we breathe, the more we are able to relax and create some space between us and the feelings of anxiety. We breathe space between us and the sensations we’re experiencing, to get a better look at them. It’s like holding an object right up to your face – you can’t really tell what it is until you create some space between you and it.
Sometimes we need to step back from our emotions to be able to make sense of them. This space of clarity is called presence – and we can get there with a single conscious breath. In this space of stillness, anxiety cannot exist; for within the present moment, everything simply is. The concept of good and bad melts away, our judgements and fears dissolve and our perspective begins to broaden. We relax into our being.
Staying in The Stillness
While this powerful state is simple to get to, it can be difficult to stay in for more than a few moments if we don’t practice it regularly. Our mind is biologically programmed to focus on something – anything, as an act of helping us. It can feel self sabotaging to focus on problems, but it’s how our ego tries to protect us. When our mind focuses on doubt, fear and worry, we create a false sense of helping the problem because at least we’re doing something about it, correct? The mind convinces us that there’s a need to focus on these thoughts so we can prepare ourselves for them in the real world.
However deep within, the intelligence of our hearts knows that there is no need to worry. There is truly never a need to worry unless you are in immediate danger. If you are in a safe space right now, perhaps sitting in your room with never-ending thoughts swirling around your mind – here’s a breathing technique that can change your life.
The 4-8-12 Breath
This breath is monumental in becoming present and staying in this sacred space. It helps our mind focus on the counting of the breath while allowing large amounts of oxygen into our system which helps wakes up our parasympathetic nervous system. By the end of a few rounds, it creates an incredible grounding feeling you can physically experience. Your entire body buzzes with energy.
It goes like this:
- Breathe in for a count of 4
- Hold for a count of 8
- Breathe out slowly for a count of 12
The exact flow of the breath is up to you, sometimes you may breathe out a little faster or hold it for a second longer, but as long as you keep the same rhythm each time, it will create the same effect.
After doing a few rounds of this breath, you can start to feel an amazing lightness sensation in your body as you breathe out. Each time, the breaths feel more and more euphoric, and it becomes easy to just focus on the rhythm of the breathing rather than mental thoughts.
If thoughts keep popping up as you practice this, simply redirect your mind to the pattern of breathing as many times as needed. You may need to do this many times in the beginning before your mind really starts to settle.
Keep this breath going for about ten minutes before returning to a normal, but very deep breath. Continuing the 4-8-12 breathing pattern for extended periods of time allows the body to settle more and more, creating deeper states of relaxation and an easier time staying in the present moment.
These beautifully calming and euphoric moments are our true divine nature. We are infinitely deserving to feel into this state of bliss. We are not our anxiety, but a conduit for all emotions to flow through. By practicing focusing on feelings of bliss and joy rather than fear and anxiety, it becomes quicker and easier to truly exist in those lighter states of being.