This is an astonishingly effective practice. You stop and you know that you've stopped. Then you take the three conscious - that is, deliberate - breaths. You can do this at any time, and in any place. Try it especially when you're experiencing some sort of distress. Then notice what happens within you.
What is the best use of each day of our lives? In one very short day, each of us could become more sane, more compassionate, more tender, more in touch with the dream-like quality of reality. Or we could bury all these qualities more deeply and get more in touch with solid mind, retreating more into our own cocoon.
One of the most effective means for working with that moment when we see the gathering storm of our habitual tendencies is the practice of pausing, or creating a gap. We can stop and take three conscious breaths, and the world has a chance to open up to us in that gap. We can allow space into our state of mind.
-- Pema Chödrön