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Breathing Exercises to Reduce Stress at Work

In yesterday’s blog post – looking at how to take the love, peace and occasional bliss from your spiritual practice into your work (scroll down), I talked about the importance of an intention to integrate your spiritual practices into your working life. This is the starting point – the energetic piece of the equation. One thing is to ‘wish’ you could, another is to commit to it.

The second level of integrating your spiritual practice with your work-life is to physically take the practice off the mat and into the office. No, this isn’t about suddenly stretching out into ‘triangle’ pose in the middle of a meeting, or standing in ‘tree’ pose to regain your balance!

Breath-work is not only extremely powerful to calm the emotions, it’s also non-intrusive and virtually indistinguishable to anyone else in the room. My favourite breath exercise is that of breathing in through the nostrils for 3 counts, and exhaling for 6. If you can stretch to 4 – 8 or more, that’s great – it’s about doubling the exhale to calm down the nervous system. Great for stressful conference calls, when you’re running from one meeting to another or after rushing for a train. If you are on your own, then simply shutting your eyes while doing the exercise, standing up and stretching out, or gazing out of a window to look at the horizon will also help you re-connect to your ‘being-ness’.

Finally, here is a fabulous prayer by Thich Nhat Hanh which you can use in conjunction with breath. It’s so quick and subtle nobody at work will notice you doing it. And yet it’s power lies in its simplicity.

“Breathing in, calming

Breathing out, smiling

Breathing in, I feel alive

Breathing out, I smile to life”

Tomorrow is the final part of this series – the mental aspect of integrating your spiritual practice with work.

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