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Beginners Series: Beginning to Breathe

Welcome to week two!

How did you do with the first exercises in the Beginner Series? Do you feel like you are becoming more in control of your posture? Did you notice any differences between the time of day, week or month you practiced?

This week we are going to begin to breathe.

The breath runs through the foundations of mindfulness but so many of us forget our breath, the life that runs within us all.

When we become upset it is quite normal for our breathing to be come rapid and shallow and for our thoughts to scatter. It is part of our evolutionary design and activates our fight or flight response.Learning to calm the breath in reactive situations will all the mind to calm naturally and bring clarity to the situation. Mindfulness is often described as a whole life practice and those who live mindfully learn to know the signs that they are reacting mindlessly to a situation before it becomes unmanageable.

“Breathing in, I calm my body and mind. Breathing out I smile.” – Thich Nhat Hanh.

This short breathing technique is really good to help you learn to fully observe your breath and the sensations that arise whilst you are in observation. It should only take about few minutes. Begin by reading through the routine to familiarise yourself, or work with a partner.

 

  • Set your posture (seated, kneeling or laying down) and if you wish, close your eyes.
  • Observe your breath as it is now.
  • Begin to slow the breath gradually but don’t over inhale, gulp or puff the air back out.
  • Simply inhale and exhale
  • If you feel it would help, adopt a counting method for each inhalation and exhalation. i.e. inhale – count 1, count 2, count 3, count 4 then exhale – count 1, count 2, count 3, count 4.
  • Don’t worry at this stage if your inhalations and exhalations are of different length. The main point of this exercise is observation.
  • Continue your inhalations and exhalations for at least ten rounds of breath.
  • When you are ready, bring your attention back to the room and if you had your eyes closed, open them.
  • Note any sensations that the breath brought to you.
  • If you are keeping a journal, makes some notes on your experience.

Next week we will take the breath practice a little further, exploring how the breath feels as it enters and leaves the body.

I hope you will enjoy practicing this basic breathing exercise.  We love to hear about your personal experiences, so if you would like to share or have a question, leave a comment below.

Have a wonderful, mindful week everyone.

~x~

Learn more about Mindfulness.

 

A Short Mindful Practice – Posture

Welcome to the first post in my beginners series.

This short mindful practice is great if you are new to the practice of Mindfulness as it concentrates on the posture and only takes a few moments. You can do this practice sitting, kneeling or laying down. Each variation in position will teach you something new about your body and how it responds to being mindful.

Remember, don’t force your body to stay in a position where you do not feel comfortable. Play around with it, and find something that works for you.

  • Sit (on the floor or on a chair) or kneel in a comfortable position or lay on the floor legs out in front.
  • Rest the backs of the hands in your lap or on the floor to the side of your body.
  • Notice how your body feels, and your position. Are you slumped or sitting/laying straight?
  • Now breathe.
  • Imagine that a piece of string is attached to the top of your head, gently pulling you upwards. This motion will make your spine engage and lengthen and if you are sitting your back will automatically leave the wall or chair back and become supported by your body.
  • Breathe.
  • Notice how your body feels, and your position.
  • Breathe.
  • Allow your chin to drop slightly and your jaw to soften. Close your eyes if you wish.
  • Take several rounds of slow, meaningful inhalations and exhalations keeping your spine long and your face soft.
  • When you are ready slowly open your eyes and bring your awareness back to your surroundings.
  • Practice this daily for a week or when ever you feel the need, keeping note on how you feel at different times of the day, week or month.
  • Start a mindful journal to help keep a diary of your thoughts, routines and progression.

Have a great mindful evening everyone.