We are born knowing how to breathe, and breathing is something we do without even thinking about it. So why would you need a breathing practice? Easy. We can learn to use breath to calm our nervous system and bring us back into the present moment. But it takes practice!

What does a breathing practice look like? During this practice led by Reverend Tim Burnett, we learn that we can slow down and take time to be still and aware of what is happening. Using the breath as our steady companion, we can practice becoming aware of what is happening in the now—getting in touch with the mind and the body.

Take 22 minutes today to begin your breathing practice:


If you watch a baby sleep, you’ll see the baby’s stomach rise and fall with each breath. Babies naturally breathe with the diaphragm (the dome-shaped muscle under the lungs). With chronic lung disease, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), you may start using your accessory muscles (a combination of muscles in the chest, shoulders and neck) instead. Using more muscles takes more effort and makes shortness of breath worse.

With practice you may be able to learn to breathe with the diaphragm again. Learn how to practice Diaphragmatic Breathing in the Veterans Health Library by clicking this link. It can also be helpful to work with a respiratory therapist or yoga provider who is trained in guiding breath practices.

Breathing practices can help with day-to-day stress, but sometimes you may need more. Do you need help coping with feelings of anxiety or hopelessness? Do you feel that friends and family just can’t understand what you are going through?

VA is here for you. Check out this video of Veterans who have found the support they needed from other Veterans and VA: www.maketheconnection.net/stories/637.

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