I have encountered soothing breathing exercises as part on my one-to-one counselling and when reading self-help Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT) books. It’s not something that I persisted with though. Developing a soothing breathing technique or form of imagery that helps us to feel calm, soothed and steady has been the main practical exercise for the first 5 weeks of my group therapy. This soothing practice came alongside getting to grips with the theory and principles of CFT.
Now that we are getting into applying the theory to understanding our own experiences and fears I think I understand the importance of learning soothing rhythm breathing first. Thinking about the lack of compassion I have for myself, how critical I am of myself and how I came to be this was raises a lot of sadness, and some fears to the surface. Being able to calm myself is really helpful in being able to do think about and discuss these thoughts and feelings, without feeling overwhelmed or crushed by them.
I’ve practised soothing breathing rhythm on most days since we were introduced to it in the first week. I’ve also experimented with scent, imagery and holding an object. I’ve discovered I like the scent of lavender because I associate it with relaxation and it encourages me to inhale deeply. I also like to hold a pebble in my hand. The shape and texture gives me something to focus my attention on if I’m having a hard time settling down. After practising for several weeks I have noticed I find it easier to calm myself and soothe the effects of anxiety or stress in my mind and body and to get a little relief. I used soothing rhythm breathing during an extremely stressful event last week and coped much better than usual.