Breathe with an Object

This is where it all comes together, and the explanation of how I made it through that church meeting. I am a tactile person, so being able to touch something helps me focus even more when doing my breathing. My desk at work is full of objects of different textures such as a golfball, resin figures, kinetic sand, plastic and wooden cutouts, and more. This also makes me popular as the place to come and play during lunch time!

The goal of this exercise is to control the speed or rate of your breathing while interacting with the object. Some examples might include holding something in your hand and rubbing your thumb against it (think of those worry stones), rubbing your fingers/hand across a surface or texture (think rubbing your hand against your pants, or even petting an animal), or another repetitive moment (karate kid wax on/wax off). Most of these movements are completed with two gestures and therefore are perfect as they can be divided into breathe-in/breathe-out.

Identify an object or gesture you are comfortable with. Think back to my story on the main page where I talked about my bracelet. This could be a tactile object – animal (real or stuffed), blanket, or you could make a sensory/tactile item (Pinterest is great for this stuff). As well, this might be a gesture or something they do as a habit (I will often bounce my foot or I rub my thumb and index finger together.)

Whatever your “2-part” gesture is, decide what direction will be the “breathe-in” and which will be the “breathe-out” motion. For me, I decided when I pushed my thumb across the bracelet away from me, that was exhale and when I pulled it toward me, that was inhale.

What you are going to do next is match the gesture to rate you are currently breathing. Let me say that again – Match the gesture to your breathing – this is important because you want to validate where you are at that moment. If you are anxious and breathing fast, then your gesture would be faster. Honor where you are and that it is ok to be in that place.

Focusing on your breath and the gesture, slowly start changing the pace of the gesture and while doing this, keep the pace of your breath matching the speed of the gesture. As the speed of the gesture slows, slow your breathing. The pace you slow down will be different from another person and should be one that is comfortable for you and what you are experiencing. Never feel like you have to “hurry up and settle down.” Some people might be able to go from 100 to 65 in a few seconds, others might need a few minutes, others might need an hour. No one is incorrect, no is better or worse than the other. The goal is to get to a healthy place on a safe journey.