A Mantra for When You’re Stressed, Having a Rough Day, or Simply Forget to Breathe

Breathing InSometimes I forget to breathe.

I’m not even joking.  Quite often, I’m doing my thing- writing, working online, driving and I observe myself holding my breath for no apparent reason. I have to tell myself all right Camila, you’ve gotta breathe here.

If my husband or one of my siblings happens to be around, they’ll ask if I’m okay or why I’m sighing and all I can say is “yeah, I’m fine, I just forgot to breathe.”

Crazy, right? I thought that was supposed to come naturally right alongside there with blinking and lifting your feet up to walk.

It happens when I’m stressed and when I’m upset, but it also happens when I’m just thinking and lost in thought. It’s like my lungs are harnessing all the power they can muster to enter my body and help me out with exactly that thought or finding a solution to my troubles in that one specific moment.

Think about it though. How often is breath used with mantras, with yoga, with pilates, with really any sort of exercise or meditative practice? It’s used all the time. Breath keeps us going. It’s the metronome of life. If we’re not using it, everything else falls apart.

When I was in college, I discovered Thich Nhat Hanh and this wonderfully simple and useful mantra:

“Breathing in I calm my body, breathing out I smile. Dwelling in the present moment, I know it is a wonderful moment.”

Since then I use this mantra when I find myself holding my breath, when I need to calm my mind before going to sleep, when I’m having a heavy day, and when I feel utterly and completely overwhelmed by life. It helps me re-center, calm down, and focus.

The next time you’re stressed out because of all you have to do, you feel angry at life, or you simply forget to breathe, try it out:

“Breathing in I calm my body, breathing out I smile. Dwelling in the present moment, I know it is a wonderful moment.”

Did you try this mantra? How did you feel afterwards? Do you have your own mantra that you’re in love with?

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5 thoughts on “A Mantra for When You’re Stressed, Having a Rough Day, or Simply Forget to Breathe

  1. Antonio Marquez says:

    I like this, it reminds me of when I was sailing. There was this one that my friend Michelle told me to internally say when i got stressed out, it goes: “Stop. Shut the fuck up. Remember your breath.” It’s more sailor-mouthed, but it always helps me center. Just breath.

    • Camila says:

      I love it! I’ll have to try it sometime, especially when I have my hyper-panicky moments. Breath really does help and mantras whether they’re more sailor oriented or zen-minded work. You just need to find a way to address the stress and I’ve found breath is the simplest way.

  2. alohaleya says:

    i so relate to this – i hold my breath all the time! BUT i am getting better and noticing the profound effect just breathing deeply has, even if i only remember a few times a day! : ) aleya

    • Camila says:

      I’m so glad I’m not the only one holding my breath all the time 🙂 You’re absolutely right, just remembering to breathe deeply and focusing on that every now and then totally helps.

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