This exercise was inspired by cardiologist, Herbert Benson’s recommendation for a Relaxation Response based on his classic 1975 book by the same title. We need to experience a certain state of safety and ease in order to attain and sustain a state of mindfulness.

This activity helps us develop a peaceful “home base” to which we can return and rest periodically.

Instructions:

Find a spot where you can be alone for 3-5 minutes. Keep in mind that we are more skilled when we nudge rather than force our actions throughout this and other mindful exercises, including the amount of time you choose to devote to each exercise. Small steps will generally trump large strides when it comes to brain training!

  • Pause and take a few moments to close your eyes and breathe, allowing your breath to become relaxed and gentle. Notice the fullness of each breath cycle, breathing in and out for a couple of breath cycles.
  • Now, with each inhalation, say JUST (out loud or to yourself) and with each exhalation, start to count to yourself, beginning with 1 and counting until you reach 10 exhalations. If you forget your place in the sequence, that’s okay. Simply start to count at 1 again. Gradually increase the number of repetitions of this sequence to strengthen your brain’s capacity to sustain focus.
  • Now, with each inhalation, say THIS (out loud or to yourself) and with each exhalation, start to count to yourself, beginning with 1 and counting until you reach 10 exhalations. If you forget your place in the sequence, that’s okay. Simply start to count at 1 again. Gradually increase the number of repetitions of this sequence to strengthen your brain’s capacity to sustain focus.
  • Finally, with each breath in, say JUST and with each breath out say THIS (out loud or to yourself) and repeat “Just this” as you breathe calmly.
  • Allow yourself to experience a state of ease as you open your eyes and go about your day.
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