3 Minute Breathing Space

wave TMT.png

The 3-Minute Breathing Space is a brief practice intended to be used when thoughts or mood spiral in a negative direction. Deliberately using the breathing space whenever we notice unpleasant feelings, or a sense of “tightening” or “holding” in the body, provides an opportunity to begin to respond rather than react.

Firstly, we become aware of our thoughts, feelings and emotions with a sense of kindness and self-compassion whatever we find, we then focus our attention on our breathing, and lastly, expand our awareness back out to a sense of the body and experience as a whole.

It can be used as much as you like, at work, at home, or any time you might need to restore some degree of calm and self-compassion to your day.

The 3-Minute Breathing Space: Basic Instructions



Become more aware of how things are in this moment by deliberately adopting an erect and dignified posture, whether sitting or standing. If possible, close your eyes. Then, bringing your awareness to your inner experience and acknowledging it, ask, “What is my experience right now?” 


  • What THOUGHTS are going through the mind? As best you can, acknowledge thoughts as mental events, perhaps putting them into words.

  • What FEELINGS are here? Turn toward any sense of discomfort or unpleasant feelings, acknowledging them.

  • What BODY SENSATIONS are here right now? Perhaps quickly scan the body to pick up any sensations of tightness or bracing, acknowledging the sensations.


Then redirect your attention to focus on the physical sensations of the breathing itself. Move in close to the sense of the breath in the abdomen . . . feeling the sensations of the abdomen wall expanding as the breath comes in . . . and falling back as the breath goes out. Follow the breath all the way in and all the way out, using the breathing to anchor yourself into the present. 


Now expand the field of your awareness around the breathing so that it includes a sense of the body as a whole, your posture, and facial expression. If you become aware of any sensations of discomfort, tension, or resistance, take your awareness there by breathing into them on the inbreath. Then breathe out from those sensations, softening and opening with the out breath. As best you can, bring this expanded awareness to the next moments of your day. 

Do not watch or listen to this material whilst driving or operating machinery or where it is not safe for you to close your eyes.

Alexander James is a Mindfulness-Based Therapist and Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapist helping clients overcome addictions, stress and anxiety disorders.

Appointments are available at various clinics across Central London including:

1 Harley Street, Bank, Canary Wharf, Notting Hill, Wimbledon and outside London at the Cowdray Therapy Rooms in West Sussex.

I also offer home visits and Online consultations.

Disclaimer: Results are not guaranteed and may vary from person to person.