Mindfulness of Breathing
Sitting upright, making sure you are comfortable and warm enough and that you won’t be disturbed for the period of this skills practice. Remembering that in this practice period, whatever happens, whatever you experience is just what it is. Try and see if you can keep any judgements or criticisms at bay and be as fully present with the body and the breath as you can during the practice.
1. Bring your attention to your body, sensations of contact with the floor or chair, the sensation of cloth against your skin.
2. Become aware of the breath as it enters your body on the in breath and leaves the body on the out breath – just following your breath, breath by breath, without trying to change it at all.
3. Focus your attention on the way the breath moves the body in a very gentle rocking motion as the abdomen rises and falls with the in and outbreath, notice the rhythm of the breath, the changing sensations of the breath, whether it is smooth, rough, long or short, cool or warm.
4. Perhaps become aware of the slight pauses at the end of the in-breath and at the end of the out-breath as it turns. There is no need to change or alter anything, just notice what is already happening in each moment. There is no particular state that needs to be achieved.
Like a puppy you will notice that your mind will wander away from the focus on the breath to thoughts, planning, daydreams, worry, and just like a puppy will keep wandering off to explore. This is perfectly natural – it’s simply what minds do – it is not a mistake and you are not getting anything wrong. When you notice that your awareness is no longer on the breath, gently congratulate yourself – you have come back and are once more aware of your experience! You may like to briefly acknowledge where the mind has been (“ah, there’s thinking”). Then, just as you would guide a puppy gently back to the path, gently escort the awareness back to a focus on the changing pattern of physical sensations in the lower abdomen, renewing the intention to pay attention to the ongoing in-breath or the ongoing out-breath.
We spend much of our time getting ‘lost in thought’ in doing, thinking, remembering, caught up in creating a story about the past or the future and in the meantime missing the actual moment which is ‘now’ !
Each time the mind wanders and you notice this, see it as a moment of awareness and take the opportunity to bring patience and gentle curiosity to your experience. Using the breath as an anchor, gently reconnect with the present moment.