It’s In the Breath

When you see a three-horned monster, RUN!

But otherwise, no matter what’s in front of you, just stand still and breathe.

When I was a child, my dad told me to take three deep breaths if I felt nervous before I sang a solo at church or did a presentation for a class project. It always calmed me to practice taking those three breaths.

The simple act of breathing literally assuages the brain and calms the amygdala fear reaction of fight or flight, calling on the prefrontal cortex do its job and be the CEO.

Many times, it’s the simplest things that you can do–like taking a deep breath–that create the necessary space in our minds to collect our thoughts and respond thoughtfully to life, rather than just react.

Often as I walk up to the podium to speak, I can’t remember the beginning of my talk. But I know that as soon as I stand with my shoulders back and breathe deeply, it will all come back to me.

As I tell my story, I often feel emotion sweep over me–enough to move the audience. I breathe again and pause to collect myself in order to move forward. Stepping in again and again, and remembering to breathe, I embody my message.

This works really well in any emotional drama too. Your breath will diffuse the impact of that drama, allowing you to respond with compassion instead of anger and angst.

I can’t recall how many times, over my kid’s education, they would call or text me about having test anxiety. My response was always the same in all caps: BREATHE.

No matter what your anxiety level, always remember to notice your breath. If you are holding your breath when you feel fear (which is a common reaction), your brain is depleted of oxygen and it will cause you to freeze and panic. If you can catch yourself early, and take three to five conscious breaths, you will notice your fears fading into white noise in the background.

Remember what I said in the beginning of this blog:

If and when you see a monster, RUN! Otherwise, pay close attention, stand still, and breathe. Click To Tweet

Whether or not you practice meditation or yoga, tuning into your breath will bring peace and clarity.

It is in your breath that you will find your most vibrant life.

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By | 2017-08-15T14:25:36+00:00 August 15th, 2017|Living The Big Stuff|8 Comments


  1. Laura January 12, 2017 at 9:41 am - Reply

    This is such a good reminder.
    Today I had to remind myself to breathe deeply because I was feeling wound up. I had a good cry, breathed deep, and felt so much better.

    • Kris Carlson January 12, 2017 at 10:08 am - Reply

      Thanks for sharing, Laura! We all need this reminder now and then…love and hugs!

  2. Laura Mayne January 12, 2017 at 2:16 pm - Reply

    At yoga the other night, the teacher was saying how we can live without food for some time and without fluids for several days, and without breathing for just a minute or two and yet we normally pay no attention to our breath, which is vital and central for us.
    Conscious, mindful, slow breathing can be so useful to us in many situations.

  3. sanjay January 12, 2017 at 8:23 pm - Reply

    thanks kristine
    for reminding me of this beautiful thing

  4. Michelle Angelini January 12, 2017 at 9:09 pm - Reply

    Thank you Kris. I have been using this breathing technique for years. I have an emotional disability and often get on the verge of an anxiety attack, so I stop and take several breaths. When I get dressed and have trouble putting my earrings in – I stop, breathe in and out several times and for some reason, the earrings usually go right in. I do this for any situation where things are becoming difficult – even in my writing. Thank you for this article – I know this technique, but need a reminder.

  5. Andrew January 12, 2017 at 11:10 pm - Reply

    Just finished reading “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff”, truly an amazing read, thank you.

  6. Dr.Hamid-Mousavi January 16, 2017 at 2:44 am - Reply

    Dear Kristine Carlson
    Have a great moments.
    Take three deep breaths…
    In love and light.
    Dr.Hamid Mousavi

  7. Laura August 17, 2017 at 2:34 pm - Reply

    The “take 3 breaths” advice is perfect! It’s much like “count to 5 before speaking” when you’re angry. Thanks for this!

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