March 2024 | Issue No. 1
Welcome to the inaugural issue of the Thought Tonic newsletter, a new monthly e-publication that will feature original and curated resources for mindfulness, meditation, and mental wellness. This newsletter will evolve over time, influenced by your feedback. Please feel free to contact me to let me know what you think.

The theme for this issue is “liberating structures,” an oxymoronic phrase from a book on strategies for fostering more engaging and generative group conversations (Lipmanowicz and McCandless, 2014). The idea is that although we may often think about structures as confining or restrictive, they can also provide us with valuable scaffolding and support. A case in point: How choosing a theme for the first issue of a new newsletter can help guide one's selection of contents when so much good material is available! For more examples, just keep reading.

I hope you enjoy this issue. -- Scott


Think Inside the Box (Breathing) for Calm and Focus

Scott Burns Kahler, PhD, LMFT, CPC
We often extol the value of "thinking outside the box.” After all, the benefits of creativity and innovation include fostering growth, driving progress, and unlocking solutions to complex problems. Nevertheless, when it comes to breathing exercises for reducing stress, improving focus, and promoting our overall physical and mental well-being, “staying in the box” can be surprisingly helpful. Sometimes a little structure makes all the difference! Take the example of box breathing. In this post, I’ll explain box breathing, its benefits, and how it works. I’ll then guide you through a step-by-step exercise to experience the benefits of box breathing firsthand.

What is Box Breathing?

In our fast-paced and often stressful lives, finding moments of calm and focus can be a challenge. Fortunately, in the practice of box breathing, we have a simple yet powerful technique that can help us achieve a state of relaxation and mental clarity in a matter of minutes.

Box breathing, sometimes called square breathing, is a controlled breathing technique practiced by US Navy Seals, firefighters, and athletes, among others. It involves ...

Related Resources

Box Breathing Relaxation Technique: How to Calm Feelings of Stress or Anxiety
3 Stress-Melting Benefits of Box Breathing
Box Breathing: How to Do It and Why It Matters
Why Do Navy SEALs Use Box Breathing?

Additional Resources

This section may include affiliate links.
In keeping with the theme of "liberating structures," I have chosen three additional resources that can provide scaffolding for activities related to mindfulness, meditation, and mental wellness. These resources include a book of everyday mindfulness exercises we can do on our own or with others; a meditation app with check-ins, reminders, and user communities; and a website featuring a therapist directory for when we think that meeting with a helping professional could provide a useful structure for self-care. You can find a link to each of these resources below.

How to Train a Wild Elephant

This book contains fifty-three fun and simple practices for incorporating mindfulness into our everyday lives. Each exercise includes tips and a lesson.

Insight Timer

This is a meditation app with free and paid versions for iOS and Android. It includes a a library of guided meditations, courses, user communities, and more.

Psychology Today

This website includes articles on a wide range of mental health topics as well as a directory of therapists and other resources for when we want more support.
Thank you for reading! I'm so grateful for your interest in this first issue of the Thought Tonic newsletter. Please feel free to contact me with feedback. What was most valuable for you? What would you like more of? Less of? You may even have ideas for future themes and content that would be meaningful for you; I’d love to hear those, too. Just click below.
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