The Complete Guide to Five-Finger Breathing – How to Feel Better Instantly

Five-finger breathing is a technique you can do anywhere, at any time. I mean, maybe not while driving or operating heavy machinery, but besides that! You can use it to relax, reset, and feel better instantly.

person doing five-finger breathing
Breathing techniques can use other sense, like touch and sight – source

By using certain breathing exercises, and incorporating them into your day-to-day life, you can increase wellbeing easily and seamlessly. Taking a deep breath has many benefits, calming the mind, reducing stress, and even causing a positive chemical reaction in the body!  

Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about five-finger breathing today!

What is Five-Finger Breathing?

Five-finger breathing is a kind of breathing technique that incorporates mindfulness into practice. It is highly effective as it uses multiple senses to focus the mind on the present and reduce anxiety and stress. It can help you slow down your thoughts until you can calm down.

This is a deep relaxation method that should not be done while operating heavy machinery. It should also not be used in any place you need to be attentive with focus. Due to its nature, you must be in a place where you can use your senses (i.e. touch, sight, etc) to focus on the method.

Your brain is like a computer. Sometimes, it can get overloaded, run many programs at once, or by having too much junk downloaded, taking up space and memory. Five-finger breathing can help you reboot the computer brain.

What are the Benefits of Five-Finger Breathing

In a world that is constantly moving, it is hard to find the time to slow down and calm down. Since we are constantly activating the sympathetic nervous system, the system in the body responsible for fight or flight, in response to daily stress, worries, and fears.

Breathing can help activate the parasympathetic nervous system, the part of the body responsible for turning fight or flight off, relaxing the body, reducing stress chemicals, and returning the body back to a normal state.

Deep breathing exercises can reduce stress and anxiety. Constant stress has been linked to chronic inflammation, which can cause many problems for the body. Stress can reduce immune system health, decrease gut microbiota balance, and increase heart disease. This deep relaxation practice can even be used to manage pain by promoting the flood of endorphins into the body.

Even sleep, memory, and focus can be improved by practicing this breathing technique.

How to do Five-Finger Breathing

There are many follow-along videos and guided audio for this kind of practice. Once you understand the concept though, you should be able to perform this technique anywhere, at any time whenever you need to reset and relax.

Here is a simple guide to help you practice this breathing technique. 
  1. Set Up Your Hands – place one of your hands out in front of you, fingers spread wide. One hand will be in this position, while the other will be used for tracing. People usually find it easier to trace with their dominant hand and have the nondominant hand still.
  2. Trace the Thumb – starting at the base of your hand, the bottom of your thumb, place your index finger there and slowly begin to move it up to the tip of the thumb, lightly grazing it. Take a slow breath in as you do this.
  3. Hold for a few seconds if it Feels Right – at the tip of the thumb, hold your breath for a couple of seconds, about 3 or 4. 
  4. Continue the Trace – once you reach the tip of the thumb, move down slowly. Exhale completely as you reach the base of the thumb, between the thumb and index finger.
  5. Keep Going – keep this pattern up, tracing along the next finger. Breath in as you move up, hold your breath for a few seconds at the top, and exhale as you move down. Remember to focus on the breath. Try to focus on the sensation of one finger tracing the other, the sight of it, if you choose to open your eyes.
  6. Switch the Direction – once you finish tracing each finger, change the direction. Repeat the same process until you reach the thumb again. Continue to focus on the present moment. Use your senses to focus on the sensations, and try to let go a little bit more every time you exhale. Imagine letting go of any weight holding you down.
  7. Relax in the Present – allow yourself this moment to relax. Continue the practice until you feel the change within your body.
  8. Bring Relaxation into the Day – when you feel good and ready, open your eyes and commit to holding onto this moment of relaxation for as long as possible.

The Takeaway

The five-finger breathing technique is a great practice for anyone that wants to reduce anxiety, stress, or worries. It is a deep relaxation practice that helps calm the mind, reset the brain, and regulate emotions.

Taking a deep breath has instant benefits, but this technique allows you to use the other senses to ground yourself in the present moment. Try it out today, or try any of these other breathing techniques to increase wellbeing today!

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