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The Mindful Breather: A Patient Guide

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A podcast you can share with your patients. Dr. Greg Sazima walks us through a stress reduction technique that combines mindfulness with abdominal breathing. Dr. Sazima is the author of the upcoming book, Practically Mindful: A Physician’s No-Nonsense Guide to Meditation from Mango Press.

Published On: 7/6/2020

Duration: 12 minutes, 2 seconds


Today we have a special patient podcast. It’s a guide to a mindfulness-based breathing technique that Dr. Greg Sazima developed called The Mindful Breather. Share it with your patients, or use it on yourself.

You’re about to hear Dr. Sazima walk you through a stress reduction technique called the Mindful Breather. He developed it by combining two popular methods for stress reduction: mindfulness and abdominal breathing.

Mindfulness is “the basic human capacity to pay attention on purpose, with intention, in the present moment, in a friendly and non-judging way.” Many therapists use mindfulness to manage stress on their own, which is how Dr. Sazima came to this work during a battle with cancer.

The next technique ─ Abdominal breathing ─ also has far reaching effects on the brain and body. Dr. Sazima will talk about how it helps reverse the vicious cycle of physiologic changes that happen during intense stress.

Both mindfulness and breathing techniques have been used to treat anxiety, insomnia, and depression. And they work ─ we have studies showing that each of them on their own can treat depression in people who did not respond to antidepressants. After all, they have physical effects much like medications do. Mindfulness balances stress hormones like cortisol and enhances brain growth factors like BDNS; breathing regulates the physical stress response and some breathing techniques also enhance brain growth.

So it makes sense that Dr. Sazima uses this technique to help patients rely less on “as-needed” or “rescue” medications for periods of crises. So try it out the next time you feel overwhelmed by anxiety, depression, rage, or an urgent need to get relief. But use it early, before those feelings completely take over ─ it works best that way and your therapist can help you identify those warning signs before they flood you.

Dr. Sazima and the Mindful Breather technique

Dr. Sazima has more on mindfulness in his upcoming book practically mindful: A Physician’s No-Nonsense Guide to Meditation. It’s a fun romp through the science and practice of stress reduction.

To learn more about how to use the Mindful Breather with your patients, check out our June/July issue online. You’ll also find a guide to other distress tolerance skills that can help patients with borderline personality disorder or intense dysphoria steer clear of self destructive impulses. For more patient centered podcasts, check out our June 8th edition “How to Stabilize Circadian Rhythms in Bipolar.”

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