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This practice is called STOP and Take a Breathing Space.  This exercise comes from an excellent book called the MBSR Handbook.  It is one of the resources for this month listed under Featured Resources in this newsletter.

STOP and Take a Breathing Space can be applied informally at any time in your day.  You can do this at work, in the home, with your friends….really….try it anywhere.  The process involves paying attention to your inner experience.  Jon Kabat-Zinn refers to this as our inner landscape and can include physical sensations, thoughts, and/or emotions.

By connecting directly with your experience, it may provide a greater sense of how the day is going for you and what action might be most appropriate now in your day.

STOP is an acronym.  It will help you to remember the steps that are involved.


T – Take a breath

O – Observe

P – Proceed.

Here is how to practice.


  • Physically become still whether standing or sitting.  You could do this at the photocopier at work or simply sitting in chair at home.  No one needs to know that you are doing this.  It happens because of your intention to become still for a few moments.

T – Take a breath

  • Take 2 or 3 intentional breaths preferable through the nose.  Gently inhale your breath and then let it go with a spirit of release and relief
  • You can do this more times is you have time

O – Observe

  • Ask yourself as you sense your inner landscape, “What is here?” and/or “What is going on inside me now?”
  • Notice the characteristics of the experience:  Is it physical, a thought, or an emotion, or maybe it is a combination of these experiences (For example, with a physical sensation, you might silently say to to your self “tight, tight, tight” with your awareness resting on the physical location where you feel the tightness)
  • Inwardly, see if you can create a sense of spaciousness for the experience
  • Bring an attitude of acceptance and compassion for what you are sensing.

 P – Proceed

  • ask yourself “What is called for now?” or “What is the next task in my day?” and then move on to your next action.  The idea is that what you have observed in the previous step may help you to make better choice for yourself.