What is mindful breathing?
All mindful breathing means is that we will be paying attention to our breath. It really is as simple as that. Mindful breathing is a great practice for many reasons. Mindful breathing is something that you can practice anywhere, and you don’t need any fancy or expensive equipment. You can begin at any age or fitness level to improve your well being right now. Your breath practice will enhance and support you in whatever other activities you’re already doing.
Mindful breathing is a simple tool with profound effects that can help us get out of the swift current of thoughts flowing through our head and into a grounded experience of life in our body. If you have always wanted to try meditation and weren’t sure where or how to start, today is your day! Meditation can be quite simple and approachable. It doesn’t have to be something that feels complicated or intimidating. All it takes to begin a meditative breathing practice is applying your loving dedication and shining the brilliant light of your awareness on something that we take for granted on a daily basis… our breath!
Today – Day 1 – I invite you to focus on taking a baseline for your 15 day challenge. It is impossible to know how much you have grown, learned, or changed if you don’t have a clear idea of your starting point. Taking a baseline is simple. We begin by noticing what is. As you breathe today, notice where you feel your breath moving in your body. Check in with your breath without trying to change or control it. Be with your breath. Spend 15 minutes, free of distractions and focused on your breathing.
LEARNING HOW TO TUNE IN TO YOUR BREATH – AN AWARENESS BASED EXERCISE
You can make the choice to either be sitting or standing for these exercises. In whatever position you have chosen, feel your feet flat on the floor, a comfortable distance apart.
If you are sitting, feel your sitting bones –the bony points at the base of your butt- press downward gently into your chair. Sit with your back upright and away from the back of your chair if you can.
If you are standing, maintain that grounded connection with your feet and allow your knees to stay soft, keeping a little microbend in your knees at all times.
Allow your spine and the crown of your head to lengthen upward toward the sky from this firm foundation. If it helps you to focus on your breathing, once you have read these directions, allow your eyes to gently close. Take a moment to feel your breath right now without changing anything.
Simply by bringing your awareness to your breath you may notice that it is already beginning to change… if your breath becomes more full and deep, make a mental note that this is what your body is naturally calling for when you make the time and space to listen to it.
Now we are going to try an experiment… there is no right or wrong here and no judgment. This is all about just noticing what is. In this experiment, you are a scientist objectively observing your breath.
Become aware of the rate of your breath, whether it feels fast or slow.
Notice the depth of your breath, whether it feels shallow or deep.
Check in with the quality of your breath, noticing whether it is flowing smoothly or has rough edges.
Notice if there is any sound associated with your breath.
Are there are any emotions or feelings associated with this experience of your breath.
Allow yourself to suspend any judgment about whether the way you are breathing is “good” or “bad” and let your self be fully present with what is.
Notice where you feel your breath moving in your body.
If you feel ready to begin your practice now, set your timer – or press play to begin your guided Daily Breathe Easy practice (included with the Breathe Easy audio book). Allow yourself to continue to observe your breath for 15 minutes… Notice any thoughts, sensations, or emotions that reveal themselves to you. Do not fight them or judge them. Simply notice what shows up and allow it to be.
Maintain this connection to your breath and when you feel ready, gently blink your eyes open if you have closed them.
Notice how you feel after taking this moment to connect with your breath. If you are using a journal during this process (which I highly recommend), record how you feel after your 15 minute experience. Did this experience feel challenging? Did it feel easy? What did you notice? Where in your body did you feel your breath moving? Remember to be kind and to give yourself the gift of grace. Tomorrow we will discuss how to address wandering minds, and on Sunday we will begin to work on how to connect with the breath in different parts of our bodies. If you have any thoughts or questions you would like to share, please feel free to do so in the comments section! I’ll do my best to keep up!