The three minute breathing space

The 3-minute breathing space is an extremely useful meditation when we find ourselves anxious or stressed. When time is limited, and we feel under pressure or off-balance, it can used as ‘an emergency’ on-the-go meditation. It can be done anywhere at any time of the day. It helps us ground ourselves in the present moment, feel calmer about our situation, regain perspective and be kinder to ourselves. It can be very helpful to revisit it two or more times daily, whether on-the-go or as a sitting meditation.

The 3-minute breathing space involves pausing in what we are doing, and bringing our focus to the present moment and our current internal experience. We become aware of three aspects: our emotions; feelings and body sensations; thoughts (including images). We simply notice them, without getting lost in them. The 3-minute breathing space has three steps.

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We give approximately a minute to each of the three steps of this meditation. To remember the steps, it can be helpful to visualise the meditation like an ‘hour glass,’ where the focus starts wide, narrows in the middle, and then widens again, or we can use the acronym AGE as detailed below.

1. (Awareness of our experience). Pause in any activity (mental or physical)… whether sitting or standing…bring your attention to your internal experience…to your felt sense of your body…let yourself become aware of any emotions present … perhaps uncomfortable…simply noticing them without trying to change them…and notice any parts of the body where sensations are present…perhaps tension… again not trying to change…and notice the thoughts going through your mind…simply acknowledging they are there…while not trying to change anything…

2. (Gathering attention).  Now focus your attention on your breathing…simply noticing when you are breathing in…and breathing out…noticing the physical sensations of breathing… the rise and fall of the chest…or belly….following your breathing in this way is a way of being ‘present’ in each moment… 

3. (Expanding attention). Now expand and open up your awareness  from your breathing…to be aware of your body as a whole…allowing a felt sense of your  whole body…noticing any sensations… emotions …thoughts… gaining a sense of the body as a whole…in this place… at this time…and then opening up your awareness of your surroundings too…


We spend approximately three minutes in this practice but the timing is a rough guide – one minute can be helpful!  As with any meditation, our mind can become distracted and wander off during the meditation…we are not getting anything wrong if this happens, we simply notice, and with kindness bring our awareness back to the meditation.

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