#BE15for15 – Day 2 – Mental chatter and focus. Help! My brain won’t turn off!
How did your 15 minutes go yesterday? You may have noticed that sometimes it feels easy to feel a deep sense of connection with your breath and all of a sudden… “squirrel!” You catch yourself thinking about what you will make for dinner, how work will go/did go today, that conversation with so-and-so, your favorite TV show that’s on later… if you are anything like me, you may notice the tendency to become frustrated and then even begin to beat up on yourself. “Gah! I can’t even focus on my breathing for 5, let alone 15 minutes!”
When you begin practicing for longer periods of time, you may notice that your mind begins to wander to other thoughts that don’t have anything to do with your breathing. This is okay and perfectly natural. It doesn’t mean that you, or your practice, are a failure. It is a part of the practice. Minds think thoughts. Minds wander. When you catch your thoughts drifting to something other than your breath and how it is moving through your body, very gently redirect your awareness back to the breath. Use kindness and the type of patience you would use with a young child whom you love very much. We often talk to ourselves in ways that we would never speak to others and in ways that we would not tolerate from others. Develop a zero-tolerance policy for self-harm. This is a skill that takes time to grow and refine. Learning to show patience and kindness to yourself as you go through the sometimes-awkward process of learning a new skill like mindful breathing will have wonderful crossover and you will see that patience and kindness begin to show up in other areas of your life.
There will be some days when your mind is easily distracted and others when your focus is on point. Success in this sort of practice is not measured by which kind of day it is. That is a sneaky trap. Don’t fall for it. Success in this type of practice is measured in your ability to show up for your practice day after day without expectation or getting attached to how you think your practice should look or feel.
Do you remember where you felt your breath moving yesterday? Use the same basic check-in today that we practiced yesterday. Be sure to give yourself the gifts of kindness and grace when you notice your mind wandering. Gently call your attention back to your breath by using the elements listed in this check-in.
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 second 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? Was your practice today different than yesterday? If so, in what way(s)? Remember to be kind and to give yourself the gift of grace. Tomorrow we will discuss how to begin to connect with the breath in different parts of our bodies. Again, 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!