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How to Do This Practice:
Find a comfortable position to start the practice, maintain a good posture and close your eyes.
Take a deep breath in for a count of four. Hold that breath, feeling it in your lungs and body for another count of four. Push the air outwards, exhaling for a count of six.
Repeat this exercise as many times as you would like.
Today’s Happiness Break host:
Dacher Keltner is the host of the award-winning podcast, The Science of Happiness and is a co-instructor of the GGSC’s popular online course of the same name. He’s also the founding director of the Greater Good Science Center and a professor of psychology at the UC, Berkeley.
Check out Dacher’s most recent book, Awe: The New Science of Everyday Wonder and How It Can Transform Your Life: https://tinyurl.com/4j4hcvyt
More resources from The Greater Good Science Center:
What Focusing on the Breath Does to Your Brain: https://tinyurl.com/3u8h53pw
Is the Way You Breathe Making You Anxious?: https://tinyurl.com/mryr2jup
A Five-Minute Breathing Exercise for Anxiety and Mood: https://tinyurl.com/3ve66u2k
How Four Deep Breaths Can Help Kids Calm Down: https://tinyurl.com/5xr2sb99
What does mindful breathing do for you? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or use the hashtag #happinesspod.
Find us on Spotify: https://tinyurl.com/taub93tp
Help us share Happiness Break! Rate us on Spotify and copy and share this link: https://tinyurl.com/taub93tp
We’re living through a mental health crisis. Between the stress, anxiety, depression, loneliness, burnout — we all could use a break to feel better. That’s where Happiness Break comes in. In each biweekly podcast episode, instructors guide you through research-backed practices and meditations that you can do in real-time. These relaxing and uplifting practices have been shown in a lab to help you cultivate calm, compassion, connection, mindfulness, and more — what the latest science says will directly support your well-being. All in less than ten minutes. A little break in your day.
Dacher Keltner: Welcome to Happiness Break our series on the Science of Happiness, where we take a break to take care of our own wellbeing. For the past 25 years, I’ve studied the evolution and the neuroscience of what makes us happy, and I’ve taught it to hundreds of thousands of people.
And what I’ve learned is that there are simple actions and practices that don’t take a lot of time. That can bring us greater strength, closeness in our relationships, and help us handle the trials and tribulations of life. One of the simplest and most effective pathways to wellbeing is mindful breathing.
Simply breathing deeply and more slowly activates the vagus nerve, which helps with heart health and being open to other people. This deepened breathing also decreases the activation of the amygdala and calms down chronic stress. Deepened breathing right before bed helps us sleep better, it can help us concentrate better. It helps us regulate the stresses of daily living. So today we’re gonna do a slow, mindful breathing exercise. What I’m gonna do is lead us through a breathing practice that has been widely applied in different scientific tests. You breathe into a count of four, you hold that breath to a count of four, and then you breathe out deepening the exhalation to a count of six.
Find a comfortable position, sitting or standing, close your eyes if you feel safe.
And put your hands in a place where they’re relaxed, either on your knees if you’re sitting, or by your sides if you’re standing.
With your eyes closed let’s take a nice deep breath in counting to four.
Hold the breath for a count of four, and then to a count of six, push the air through your lungs, your nose and your mouth.
Breathing in to a count of four, expanding the chest. Holding it and then breathing out, following the wave of the air through your lungs, your throat, and your nose.
Another nice deep breath in. Hold it. A nice deep breath out.
Now breathing in, expanding your chest with air, hold it, and a deep breath out.
Expanding the chest take a nice deep breath in, hold it, and now a deep breath out following that wave of your air through your lungs, your throat, and your nose.
Nice deep breath in. Hold it. A nice deep breath out.
On this final breath in. Open your eyes gently. Hold the breath. And our final exhalation out, following the air through your lungs, your throat, and your nose.
I find after these mindful breathing exercises, it’s just good to notice, to take stock — of how you feel. So notice what you perceive out in the world. Does it seem different at all? Notice the state of your mind how your thought patterns seem. How about your body? Does it feel a little bit different? Maybe your shoulders are more relaxed or your face, and then your feelings. What might have shifted in this couple of minutes of mindful breathing? Just good to notice these practices and what they do for us.
That’s it. That’s mindful breathing. If you wanna read up on this or you’re interested in more practices like the mindful breathing exercise that we just did, check out our show notes for links to other wellbeing practices from our podcast, the Science of Happiness.
I’m Dacher Keltner, thanks for taking this Happiness Break with me.
Happiness Break is produced by PRX and UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center.