Mindfulness of breathing technique

Mindfulness of breathing is a foundation practice and one that you can return to time and time again to establish concentration as well as deliberate or intentional thought management.

The repeated movement of bringing the mind back to focusing on the breath gives us the ability to intentionally focus our attention. This means that you can “change your mind” when you are caught up in negative thinking or memories that you don’t want to pay attention to.

Begin by sitting comfortably in a cross legged position, with a straight spine and with your hands resting in each other, in your lap or on your knees, facing up or down.

Close your eyes and move your awareness through the body from the top of the head down to the feet, relaxing that part of the body your awareness is resting on. Spend about 30 seconds on each area of the body…the arms, the hands, the chest, the belly, etc and become aware of your natural breathing rhythm. Notice without any judgement and without changing the breathing rhythm each breath in and each breath out. Notice how the body moves with the breath. The chest rises and falls, the belly rises and falls, the ribcage expands and contracts, there is a slight movement of air at the nostrils as the breath moves in and out of the nose.

Feel these movements now, focus on one area of movement at a time. The upper chest, the chest, the belly, the ribs and back to the nostrils.

Notice now where the feeling is most prominent for you. Is it the chest or the belly, ribcage or upper chest, or nostrils perhaps, and just focus your attention there. Concentrate on that part of the body. Keep your awareness on the breathing happening in this area only. Feel the sensations in this area as the breath moves in and out of the body. Hold this awareness, gently resting your awareness on this chosen part. You will do this for ten minutes. And while you are doing it – your mind will calm, you will feel more relaxed and at ease, but your mind will also wander. You will think of things that cause your awareness to be drawn away from your chosen part of the body and the breath moving there. When this happens, simply start again, without judgement or making yourself wrong, bring your awareness back to the movement of the breath in and out of the body at your chosen area. It may be hard to do and you may find yourself thinking other thoughts as a result and experiencing self talk but gently and firmly, with compassionate intention, look once again at your breathing.

The point where you notice that you are thinking is the point where you must act and move your awareness back to your breathing. Starting again, over and over, without judgement.

When your ten minutes are complete, rest for a moment and then bring your awareness back to your surroundings, listen to the noises in your environment and gently blink open your eyes. Sit for a few moments in silence with yourself contemplating what you just did and reflecting on the experience.

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