Sometimes there is that one cue, a few words spoken, that sticks with you unexpectedly.

In this case it was “slow down at the beginning of your inhale”. That sounds simple, and very relevant to the yoga class I was in when I heard it. But it made me realize that every breath I take, even the breaths where I am trying to breathe slow and full, I rush the start. Inhale right now. Do you do the same? To take a full breath I inhale quickly until I get to the peak, like I need to rush to get to the point. Go as slow as you can at the start of your inhale. Just that concept made me so much more aware of my breath, of the way I am using it. I thought I understood how to be present, but this technique showed me a new level of presence and awareness.

Maybe it’s not just the slowing down that was such a game changer, but the idea that there was something I was doing subconsciously constantly, and consciously sometimes, that could be changed to be more effective. I think we often fall into step with things that we believe we’re doing the best way, just because we’ve done it that way for as long as we can remember. When you can shift things, even if it’s just slightly, it will always open up new mental pathways. The idea that you can shift something you do every day into something so expansive is incredibly freeing.

Beyond that, the idea of slowing down at the start is something I have needed to work on. I will rush into things without thinking them through, of making mistakes because I’m not taking my time to do it right or think through the best methods. Slow down at the start, be conscious of the entire process and not just the end goal. Perhaps this cue resonated with me so much because it was something I’ve needed to address on a greater level.

I’ve been using it now, as often as I can. Whenever I think about it, I take a moment to consciously inhale slowly, steady and even from start to finish. Balanced. It still requires effort for me not to rush the start, so there is a focus that binds me to the present, to the simple and powerful act of breathing. It feels amazing. I can feel the effects of this exercise through every breath, my body and mind feel calm yet energized, peaceful. Amazing how just one tiny change, one cue, one moment, can set in motion something that impacts on so many levels. And you never know what it will be, until it does.

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