Bringing our awareness to the breath can help us release tension, manage stress and strong emotions, be more present with the task at hand and calm ourselves in the presence of others. You don’t necessarily need to ‘find time’ in your day to do this technique. Stopping for just a few minutes, at regular intervals, throughout the day or simply bringing your attention to the breath while doing any task will make a huge difference to how you feel at the end of a long day.
Direct your attention to the breath either:
1. At the area of the nostrils – the air will feel cool on the in-breath, warm on the out-breath
2. The belly – the rise and fall of the belly; you can put your hands on your belly to help
3. The whole body – you may get a sense of the breath entering and exiting your entire body
(Do what feels most natural. There’s no right or wrong way)
You can also say “I am breathing in… I am breathing out…” (in your mind) to help keep you focused.
I just let my mind wander and it didn’t come back
Keep your attention controlled but not too tight. The mind is constantly wandering so it will try to steer you away after only 1 or 2 breaths but just keep bringing your attention back every time your mind wanders. Be like the captain steering his ship and keeping it on course! Don’t try to desperately change your breathing pattern – just observe it and you’ll notice your breathing naturally starts to change and slow down.
With each out breath try to relax any areas of tension in the body. You’ll naturally become more aware of body sensations, tension and tightness. Let the body unravel with each out breath… as you release each breath sink deeper into yourself and let your body unravel and relax…
You’ll naturally become more aware of sound as well. You may hear the wind… the birds…and the cars all at once…along with sounds on a more subtle level. Enjoy a broader awareness that is controlled yet relaxed.
You can bring your attention to the breath anytime, anywhere. Obviously it’s a deeper experience if you have the space to do it with eyes closed – it becomes more of an exercise on concentration also. With eyes open we become more present where we are. Experiment for yourself (with eyes closed and eyes open) and see and feel the difference.
The breath is our anchor into the present moment
Bring your attention to the breath when you are walking or doing menial tasks like the dishes, ironing and cleaning! Tasks become more meaningful as you’re using the time to strengthen your mind and be fully present with the task. Instead of letting your mind wander all over the place while driving (those times when you’re ‘not all there’) just notice your breath – it can make you more present, alert and aware of what you’re doing and your surroundings. Hopefully you won’t miss that turnoff. And hopefully you’ll notice that speed camera up ahead!
Become more aware of your breathing patterns in various situations. Is it shallow and fast, deep and slow, are you holding your breath? Simply focusing on the breath for a few minutes, regularly throughout the day, can help manage your stress levels and keep you centred and sane! The world can get a little crazy.