Being mindful and aware can help us reduce stress, improve our mental health, and help us find peace within our day. Every moment of the day our breath is moving in and out so it is one of the easiest places to bring mindfulness into the day. This technique can be used if you are feeling anxious, stressed, or if you feel that you need a little bit of centering within the day.
We will gently be finding our breath within our bodies. Most importantly, there is nothing to figure out, there isn’t a right or wrong way to do it, and you don’t need to do anything specific. As you start the technique you will find your mind wandering, simply acknowledge the thought without judgement, and then bring your awareness back to your breath. Many of us will notice this happening frequently (every few seconds), be patient and be easy on yourself. Over time with practice your mind will become quieter and the length of time between wanders will increase. Are you ready to give it a try?
This technique (steps 1-7) are taken from the book “Practicing Mindfulness” by Matthew Sockolov:
1. Find a comfortable position for the body. Sitting is often recommended, as it helps keep the body awake and energized. You can also try lying flat on your back, or standing. You may sit on a yoga mat, meditation cushion, or chair. Find what feels comfortable and sustainable for a few minutes of stillness.
2. Gently allow the eyes to close. If you’re more comfortable with the eyes open, try softly gazing at the floor or ceiling (depending on your eye position). Allow the eyes to relax and rest on one spot. the idea is to minimize distractions in your practice.
3. Bring awareness to the abdomen. Relaxing the muscles there, see if you can feel the natural rising and falling. Imagine the body is breathing itself. From the navel around to the obliques, notice the movement with each breath. Take a few deep breaths like this.
4. Move your awareness up to the chest. As you inhale, tune into the expansion of the lungs and the rising of the chest. As you exhale, feel the contraction and movement. See if you can follow the feeling of the breath from the beginning of your inhalation through the end of your exhalation.
5. Now bring your attention to the nostrils. The feeling of the breath may be more subtle here. Try taking a deep breath to see what is present for you. You may notice a slight tickle at the tip of the nose as you breathe in. You may notice the breath is slightly warmer on the way out.
6. Rest your awareness on the body breathing in one of these three spots. When the mind wanders, refocus on the direct experience of the breath. Continue to observe the breath for a minute or two.
7. Wrapping up this period of practice, bring this awareness with you into your daily life. Stay in touch with the breath in your body to help the mind remain present.
Take time each and every day to find your breath. Doing this technique for as little as 5 minutes can help bring a sense of calm to our bodies. Most of us have lives that are very busy, stressful, and our minds are constantly filled with chatter. Being mindful, finding our breath, and quieting our minds can help bring a little bit of peace to our day. Happy Breathing!