So, hopefully you have found a little bit of time over the last week to give the gift of mindfulness to the world and the folks around you by taking time to be present in your physical body. This week we’re ready to move on to step two: mindful breathing.
Breathing is cool. We do it completely unconsciously when asleep or when we’re lost in the business of our days. Yet we also have control over our breathing and can slow or speed it at will. Science shows that shifting our breathing to a slower, deeper pattern calms both the body and the mind.
Step two of the Intense Present-Focused Awareness recipe is becoming aware of our breathing.
That’s it. The simple act of moving our awareness to inhaling and exhaling takes us from elsewhere to now, from inattentive to attentive. And, once we notice our breathing we can make changes to it. Is it shallow like a puppy panting? If so, we can lengthen and deepen both inhales and exhales.
So, during this busy time of year, when is there time for practice becoming aware of your breathing? Here are a couple of suggestions:
- Whenever/wherever you hear a bell, stop and take a moment to feel your body breathing
- Whenever you find yourself waiting in line this holiday season, stop and take a moment to feel your body breathing
- Whenever you step outside and see your breath, stop and take a moment to feel your body breathing
Right now, stop and take a moment to feel your body breathing.
Perhaps the most amazing thing about step two (and honestly all the steps in mindfulness practice) is that we’re not carving out 90 minutes for a class or sitting on a meditation pillow to be mindful. Although both of those things are awesome, often we use our busy schedules as a way to say there’s no time for practicing mindfulness. But mindfulness practice doesn’t require bells, whistles or even time. It’s a little like “dropping a pin” in the present moment, centering ourselves where we are, and paying attention to life. Once you drop the pin, see how long you can continue doing what you’re doing while still feeling your breathing.
Next week we’ll dive into the next two ingredients of IPA, paying attention and awareness, and how a small shift in who’s paying attention to what can make an enormous difference in health and well-being!