Whenever you’re feeling stressed or worried, whenever you have a difficult message to deliver, whenever your heart is pounding with anger, whenever it’s all too much, please STOP, get quiet, ground yourself and slowly inhale/exhale three times.

Take three…..long…..conscious…..breaths. There. Doesn’t that feel better? Doesn’t that clear your head?

I have shared that handy bit of wisdom so many times, with so many people, in so many different situations. And yet I hardly ever take the time to follow my own “three-breath” advice!

Three breaths can feel like an eternity. Even as an experienced meditator, I am seldom able to get to Breath Number 2 before some thought comes crashing in to disrupt.

“Did you remember to write a check to Eileen?”

“Maybe you shouldn’t have eaten apple crisp AND chocolate at lunch.”

“Why is that wrench light appearing on my car dashboard?”

But if I (gently) force myself to focus, the practice instantly restores my balance. Three breaths can make the difference between thoughtful choices and poor decisions, between quick consensus and protracted argument, between retaliation and de-escalation, between organization and disintegration. 

And they make a fantastic short-cut ritual for invoking the muse. Three long inhales accompanied by three cleansing exhales can open the path for surprising and creative delights to spill onto your page.

Try it with me, okay? Ready? Inhale to a count of six. One. Two. Three. Four…

Photo Credit: Ricardo Mancia 

I lead writing workshops in the Bay Area, and spend much of my so-called free time writing. To support my avocation (and my family) I sell residential real estate in San Francisco; for more about that visit RealEstateTherapy.org or CynthiaCummins.com.