The One-Minute Self-Care Ritual I Practice Every Day

It has changed everything.

July 25, 2020
Photo by Bobbi Lin

Not too long ago—and yet, it feels like another lifetime—my two-hour train and bus rides to work, and long days once I got there, were starting to wear me out. I don’t think I fully comprehended just how much energy the commutes were taking out of me. Until I did.

To help, I tried several things: listening to podcasts on my commute, a quick midday workout, but I couldn’t shake that out-of-sorts feeling. I considered trying a daily meditation routine—my friends had boundless ideas and apps to offer—but the problem was that most required setting aside 20 minutes of my time each day. I did not have 20 minutes (I did, but I didn't...you know?). Or perhaps I was just overwhelmed by the idea of sitting still, in complete silence, for long stretches of time.

And then I remembered.

A year prior, I had completed a yoga teacher training in Thailand. Amid the in-depth study of yogic philosophy and asanas, our teacher slipped in a really simple exercise that caught my attention—a technique that was folded into the session on breathwork. It wasn’t something that explicitly screamed “meditation” but I remember feeling great after, and thinking: “Is this the feeling of stillness that people speak of?”

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“Do you do all those rounds in one setting with a few seconds of break in between or do you just decide when you start whether you are going to 3, 6, or 9 breaths/rounds? Can you do 9 in one minute. Thanks for your help. I’m excited about the possibilities of this practice. ”
— P

I decided to give it another try, not least because I remembered it taking less than a minute. Yes—just one minute. I’ll admit at first I was slightly dismissive of any long-lasting effects, because, I mean, could 60 seconds really make that much of a difference?

I figured I could give it a week and see if I felt something…anything. By the third day, the feeling of sleepwalking through my days was gone. By the fourth, I started to feel much more present and my energy levels were up. By day seven, I thought: “This is meditation...THIS is the feeling of a quiet mind." I was finally getting a grip on that abstract concept of mindfulness, and understanding that taking a moment to check in with my breath and body was how I could get there.

I don’t think I would have ever tried to make meditation a more natural part of my everyday routine if I hadn’t given this a chance. But most of all, it taught me that, sometimes, the best thing you can do during a hectic day is simply stop. For just one minute.

Now, it’s your turn.

So, what is it?

It is a Pranayam (breath control) technique called Bhramari Breath, also colloquially known as Bee Breath (think: the sound of a buzzing bee). This breathing method allows you to close off the senses of sound and sight to give yourself a mindful moment pretty much anywhere and anytime.

How to do it

Getting Started: Start with a single round (one inhale and exhale) at the start of your day, setting an intention for the rest of the day. Or, do three rounds in the middle of the day, or whenever you need some calm.

Step 1: Find a comfortable position (sitting is most ideal, but some do it standing or laying down).
Step 2: Place four fingers (excluding your thumbs) over each eye to block out light. Avoid pressing your eyes; you'll just want to press enough to block out the light. You could also cup your fingers in a scoop-like form so as to avoid pressing on your eyes.
Step 3: Place your thumbs on your ears to block out sound.
Step 4: Inhale through the nose, comfortably filling your lungs with air.
Step 5: Exhale through the nose and, at the same time, hum. You will feel a vibration in your throat.

Repeat once more, or in rounds of 3 (3, 6, 9). Once you are finished, remove your hands and slowly open your eyes. Rest for 10 seconds.

Let me know how it goes in the comments below! Feel free to follow me for more tips and variations on how to apply this to specific challenges.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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Lillian Daniels

Written by: Lillian Daniels


Fidelma December 20, 2020
I just tried this, love it! Quiet the monkey brain :)
Skip G. November 21, 2020
Amazing! I will add it to my Qi Gong practice.....
Darice D. August 16, 2020
Wow! That felt super amazing! I heard the sound of Tibetan singing bowls when I did the humming which was really calming (has anyone’s else experienced this?). Idk if it has to do with being a vocalist but it felt so incredible and I’ll definitely be trying it more (and sharing!) when I’m in need of a quick breather.
Lillian D. August 27, 2020
Beautiful I am so happy that you enjoyed it Darice! ahh that is interesting I am not a singer but this does make me feel more comfortable using my voice. I am excited for what you will experience as a vocalist. So wonderful!
hgyap August 15, 2020
Thanks for teaching me the bee breathing. I'm in the hospital with pneumonia now n this breathing method help me in recovering my lungs. Thanks
Lillian D. August 27, 2020
You are most welcome I am thankful that it is serving you and I hope that you are healing up well.
P August 8, 2020
This looks great. I don’t understand what you mean by the 3, 6, 9 rounds. Do you do all those rounds in one setting with a few seconds of break in between or do you just decide when you start whether you are going to 3, 6, or 9 breaths/rounds? Can you do 9 in one minute. Thanks for your help. I’m excited about the possibilities of this practice.
Lillian D. August 10, 2020
Hey! Sure thing the 3 ,6, 9 is in regards to your breaths. Breathing regular so instead of doing it for one breath and then removing your hands, you would do it for 3,6 or 9 regular breaths. Also certainly you can do 9 in 1 minute if you like. Indeed it will take even less than 1 minute if you are only doing 1 breath .
h S. August 4, 2020
whoa. that was amazing, thank you so much for sharing. i’m an oncology nurse and am always looking for ways to teach my patients (and myself) how to self-calm so i don’t have to constantly give them ativan, etc...i’ll definitely add this to the arsenal!
Lillian D. August 10, 2020
I am so happy to hear that it will be of use to you as well as your patients! That is wonderful I am so happy to hear it is helpful!
Kittica August 3, 2020
At a time when so much in our World is disturbing, this brings a lovely moment of calm and reminds us to stop and be(e). Thank you! I tried it, loved it and shall definitely add it to my day.
I've already told my meditation guide about it and she loves it too!
Lillian D. August 4, 2020
Kittica thank you so much for sharing your experience I am really happy that you enjoyed it and that it gave you a moment of calm. Indeed this is certainly something that is very helpful during this time.
Lauracm August 2, 2020
I studied yoga with a woman who studied with Iyengar. She taught me a lot, and I’ve had epidurals with just the breathing. She didn’t teach me the humming—I’m going to try that next time I’m frazzled.
Lillian D. August 4, 2020
wow, that is amazing, yes the power of breath is so beautiful and to learn even more ways we can use it to help give more calm and increased health is truly awesome. The humming is something that I love and it is a great intro into the use of our vocals and internal vibrations.
lastincarnate August 2, 2020
This is a great technique and I really like your demonstration. Thank you for offering a new tool to my arsenal!
Lillian D. August 4, 2020
You are most welcome thank you for trying it and I am happy that you enjoyed it. I will work to share it in this manner. I hope to demonstrate it as best as possible so that many may enjoy and find it useful!
Rhonda35 July 28, 2020
Love this! Thanks for sharing such an easy, accessible technique to help calm and center, Lillian.
Lillian D. August 4, 2020
You are most welcome! Yes I love how easy it is
Suzanne D. July 26, 2020
Ahh love seeing this on the site! :) Looks great, Lillian.
Lillian D. July 27, 2020
Thank you Suzanne!!
Aja A. July 25, 2020
I love this so much! Just tried it for 60 seconds and felt rejuvenated afterwards, almost like I just came out of a tiny nap. Thank you Lillian!
Lillian D. July 27, 2020
You are so welcome and thank you for trying it out Aja! I am so happy that it served you! I absolutely love this it is such a nice tool to be able to pull upon.
garlic&lemon July 25, 2020
This is great! I am always looking for "intro-to-mediation" practices for my clients. It is doubly wonderful to see a woman of color teaching it. Yay! This technique also includes gentle, supportive, intentional touch, which acts like a virtual "thunder shirt" to our nervous system.
Arati M. July 25, 2020
Isn't it incredible...sometimes all you need is to step away, take a minute, breathe deep, and recharge.
Lillian D. July 25, 2020
Thank you I am so happy that you enjoy it! Thank you for sharing "thunder shirt" I had not heard of that before. It is also so wonderful that you share that with your clients, I am sure that they find it hugely beneficial.
Health & Joy- Lillian
nblack August 9, 2020
Just tried it. Have been trying to teach myself to swim again and think my breathing on land needs to be part of it too