Mindful 02 :: Deep Breaths

Thursday, March 20, 2014

"Pause for a few seconds to observe the flow of your breath. 
Become aware of a silent but powerful sense of presence."

Happy Spring everyone! I'm so happy to get back in to the Mindful thang. I am ready. My workaholic stress-case has subsided. Spring is shining over here, and us East Coasters are bred to be happy and relaxed on sunshiney days.

Today I wanted to keep it simple by talking about Mindfulness of Breath. As you're starting your mindfulness practice, this is one of the easiest things to focus on. The more you practice, the more you'll do it. I find myself focusing on my breath now occasionally throughout the day, and each time it brings an enormous sense of calm over me. In a boring or irritating meeting? At the dentist? Having trouble shutting off before bed? These are all wonderful moments to try a discreet mindfulness of breath meditation.

Like last time, you will sit or lie in a comfortable position. Usually I recommend sitting up with good posture to keep you alert (especially if you're tired!). You may choose to close your eyes or keep them open (if I feel distractable, which is almost always, I keep them closed).

Begin by gently moving your attention onto the process of breathing. Simply observe each breath as it happens. Without feeling the need to alter your breath, just notice everything that's happening. Is your chest moving up and down from the breath? Can you feel the air going in and then out of your nostrils? Notice how the breath is always changing. One moment it might be deep and slow, the next it might be shallow, the temperature of the air might change. See if you can notice the changes while you practice.

If your mind wanders, know that this is okay. Simply notice the distraction (this is a moment of mindfulness!) and gently bring your attention back to the breath. One thing that helps is to use noting phrases to keep your attention on the breathe. I often say in my head "in...out....in....out". 

Zoom in and out during the exercise. Increase your curiosity - how detailed can I feel this breath? Then zoom out and feel the expansive nature of your breathing.

Ending and Reflection 
Take a few moments to yourself, just to feel connected with the present moment. Expand your awareness from the breath into the room around you, and as you feel comfortable to do so, take a deep breath, stretch, open your eyes and bring the exercise to a close.

You can practice on your own, but if you would like a guide, here is a 5-minute Mindful Breathing Meditation.

Enjoy your mindful breathing! I hope you all give it a try this weekend. 

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