Mindful breathing is a simple but powerful technique. One of the main benefits of mindful breathing is that it’s a technique we can use anywhere. It doesn’t require any special equipment or environments.

Background

If you’ve read the mindfulness basics page then this is probably a bit of a repeat. Our goal for this exercise is to focus our attention on our breathing. Breathing is something that we do all the time but rarely actually pay attention to.

This is actually harder than it sounds! One of the tricks is to be curious about you’re breathing. Every breath is a little bit different. Try to focus on the sensations in your body as you breath. Follow the air going in your nose and expanding your lungs. Try to notice where you feel the breath the most; is it in your chest, you’re belly or your throat?

During the exercise you’ll likely notice that thoughts and feelings are going through your mind. This is expected, our minds like to be busy. Often times we’ll get distracted by thoughts or feelings. That’s ok! Once you notice that you’re distracted just gently re-focus your attention on the physical sensations of breathing.

Instructions

  1. If you have the opportunity try to find a spot that’s quiet and where you are unlikely to be interrupted.
  2. Set an alarm on your phone, I usually recommend 5-10 minutes to start.
  3. Take a moment to get comfortable; this could be sitting on a chair, sitting on the floor or standing.
  4. With your eyes open, take a few deep breaths. Focus on the sensations in your body as the air enters and exits your body.
  5. After a few deep breaths gently close your eyes. Let your breath return to it’s own effortless rhythm. 6. Focus your attention on the sensations of you’re breathing.
  6. If you notice you’ve been distracted that’s ok! Simply return your attention to the sensations of breathing.
  7. At the end of the exercise take a moment to notice how you feel. As you go into the rest of your day try to keep that same focus in whatever you are doing.

Tips

It’s pretty normal to worry about doing this exercise wrong. If you notice that your mind wanders and begins to worry about doing the exercise “correctly” that’s ok, simply note that you’ve been distracted by your worry and return your attention to your breathing.

This sounds like a simple exercise but is actually quite difficult. Our minds aren’t used to focussing on a single object of attention. The more regularly you practice the easier it will become. Some days will be harder than others and that’s normal.

It’s important to take a moment to notice how you feel after the exercise. You may feel the same as you did before, you may feel more focussed, relaxed or even sleepy. That’s ok. The point of this exercise is to help us become more aware of our thoughts, feelings and body sensations in the present moment.

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