Looking for a simple way to soothe away tension during a stressful work day?  Need a break to refocus your attention?  Square breathing is a simple, easy, and effective way to calm yourself and enjoy a few minutes of tranquility.

Though, you can practice this mindful breathing exercise anytime, anywhere – if you’re in your office, I suggest sitting tall in your chair, both feet on the floor.  Then, it’s just four simple breath segments done to a count of four.

  1. Inhale 2 3 4
  2. Hold 2 3 4
  3. Exhale 2 3 4
  4. Hold 2 3 4

Focusing on the breath and the count of four, repeat the same process until you reach a relaxed state.

Adding Meditation into the Mix

If you’d like to give your mind something more to focus on than breathing and counting (some of us need a little more help to get a little less tense),  consider adding a basic meditation to your square breathing.

Use any four-sided object – preferably a square – as a visual guide (window, picture frame, post-it, or computer screen).  (Note:  If you want something pretty and readily available when working, download this special wallpaper I’ve designed just for square meditation.)

Click here to download.  Scroll down for meditation instructions.

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Basic Square Meditation

Start by focusing on the upper left corner of the square.  As you inhale, move your gaze smoothly to the upper right corner.  As you hold, bring your gaze to the lower right corner.  As you exhale, move your gaze to the lower left corner.  And, to complete the cycle, as you hold bring your gaze to the upper left corner.  Repeat, as needed.

A Little Extra Pause

If you’d like to focus the mind even deeper, use the elements in the corners of the square to boost your mental awareness.  Using the wallpaper above, it might look like this:

  1. THINK: BLUE – Inhale 2 3 4 (moving to the upper right)
  2. THINK: GREEN – Hold 2 3 4 (moving to the lower right)
  3. THINK: PINK – Exhale 2 3 4 (moving to the lower left)
  4. THINK: YELLOW – Hold 2 3 4 (moving to the upper left)

Or Like this:

  1. THINK: BLUE SKY – Inhale 2 3 4 (moving to the upper right)
  2. THINK: GREEN GRASS – Hold 2 3 4 (moving to the lower right)
  3. THINK: PINK FLOWERS – Exhale 2 3 4 (moving to the lower left)
  4. THINK: YELLOW SUN – Hold 2 3 4 (moving to the upper left)

Make it About Gratitude

If you’d like to slow down the cycle and redirect your thoughts from negative to positive, incorporating gratitude into this practice brings additional benefits.  Start by focusing on the upper left corner of the square.  As you inhale, move your gaze smoothly to the upper right corner.  As you hold, keep your gaze on the upper right corner and think of something from today that you’re thankful for (keep it quick, you’ve only got four counts).  As you exhale, bring your gaze to the lower right corner.  As you hold, keep your gaze on the lower right corner and think of something else from today that you’re thankful for.  As you inhale, move your gaze to the lower left corner.  As you hold, keep your gaze on the lower left corner and think of yet another thing from today that you’re thankful for.  As you exhale bring your gaze to the upper left corner.  And, to complete the cycle, as you hold think of something else you’re thankful for.  It might look like this:

  1. Starting in the upper left corner – Inhale 2 3 4 (moving to the upper right)
  2. THINK: I’M THANKFUL FOR WARM WEATHER
    (while you Hold 2 3 4 and stay focused on the upper right)
  3. Exhale 2 3 4 (moving to the lower right)
  4. THINK: I’M THANKFUL FOR MY DAUGHTER’S SMILE
    (while you Hold 2 3 4 and stay focused on the lower right)
  5. Inhale 2 3 4 (moving to the lower left)
  6. THINK: I’M THANKFUL FOR A SHORT COMMUTE
    (while you Hold 2 3 4 and stay focused on the lower left)
  7. Exhale 2 3 4 (moving to the upper left)
  8. THINK: I’M THANKFUL FOR HOT TEA
    (while you Hold 2 3 4 and stay focused on the upper left)

Give the simple square breathing a try and then add in some meditation techniques as you feel the need.  Adapt and customize the meditation to your situation, in whatever way will help you set aside the stressful circumstances and enable you to jump back into your day with a more serene energy.

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