Mindful Mondays: 4 x 4 Breathing for Well Being

Today we keep it simple with a breathing technique that is handy whether you require steady thinking, reduction of anxiety or just need to slow yourself down.

This effective technique goes by many names: Tactical Breathing, Combat Breathing, Box Breathing, or 4×4 Breathing.

It’s simple:

  1. Inhale to the count of 4 (fill your belly area)
  2. Hold to the count of 4
  3. Exhale to the count of 4
  4. Hold to the count of 4

Repeat. 

The ‘Holding’, particularly after you’ve exhaled, is important.  It puts a bit of pressure on your diaphragm which has direct contact with your Vagus Nerve and your parasympathetic nervous system. This coordination helps your body/mind slow itself down for optimum integration, calm thinking, anxiety reduction, and a sense of steadiness.

A sequence that works well for me:

  • ‘Box Breathe’ for a minute or so
  • then take a deep cleansing breath
  • then let your breathing return to a natural rhythm for a few cycles in and out
  • start the Box Breathing again

Here’s a link to a helpful visual guide

It has a lovely relaxing soundtrack too.

Take good care.

For last week’s Mindful Mondays, click here.


Lisa Wellington

Lisa Wellington is a Certified Mindfulness Teacher who writes about integrative practices that downshift stress, increase insight, and jumpstart joy.

She is best known for her work with law enforcement professionals as well as those challenged by housing instability and addiction. Trained in the Fine Arts at Washington State University, she specializes in group training that engages participants’ inherent creativity.

If she is not under a stack of books about psychology and spirituality, she can be found at a Puget Sound beach or nearby trail, always searching for the absurd, which is her superpower. 

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