3 Minute Life Changer / by Deborah Nugent

You may be asking yourself how can anything you do for three minutes a day have the potential to change your life.  I found myself in the very same position a few years ago.  To add even more fuel to the doubt-fire, I’ll tell you that it’s already something you do every day and all day long.  Okay okay I’ll end the suspense… “It is Your Breath”. 

This thing you do without much thought can be a transformation agent when you bring focused awareness to it for a short period each day.  This is exactly what my teacher Beryl Bender Birch asked a group of us to do during our 200 hour teacher training. 

I have to admit, I didn’t take it very seriously when Beryl asked us to dedicate 3 minutes of everyday to pranayama .  I mean really, how was three minutes a day going to create any type of meaningful shift.  It was actually the most ingenious ask I have ever received from a teacher.

The time commitment was so minimal and the activity was to breath, something I was already doing with no effort. Even I, the master of procrastination could not justify skipping out on this one. 

Armed with my cell phone timer, I sat down and prepared to use the simple three part breath that Beryl had taught us over the weekend of training. I was very prescriptive in my approach, each morning, same place and same technique.  I went through the motions for a few weeks, tacking this on as a meditation precursor and having no real expectation.  What I ended up finding was a transformational practice that has truly changed my life. 

The shift started to occur in week three.  I entered the place I sit for practice and sat down on my meditation cushion to begin and realized that my breath was already flowing deep and long from my lower belly.  How did this happen? I wasn’t even aware that my breathing pattern had changed. Habit is a sneaky and pervasive animal that has the potential to change many aspects of your life.

With this new deep relaxed breath, I noticed I had been feeling much more calm throughout the day.  I decided to experiment with applying this directed and focused breath in some pretty challenging work situations. 

I have a tremendous fear of public speaking combined with a driving need to inspire change.  What a combination! Could this breath really influence how I reacted in situations and remove fear? The answer is yes and no. It changed how quickly I recovered from a stressor and made me more resilient, however it did not miraculously remove the fear.  This was enough to get me moving, putting myself out there and sharing my voice on an organizational level.

When I allowed my breath to become my teacher, I was able to see the healthy cycle of receiving (inhalation) and releasing (exhalation) that I needed to apply in my life and how to soften in times of discomfort.

Your journey will likely be different but it can also begin with just 3 minutes a day and I invite you to grab your timer and get breathing!