Everywhere we go, we are breathing. No matter what we are doing or feeling, we always have our breath to connect us to the present moment . Although breathing itself is one of the most natural automatic things that we do, it is not always easy to focus our attention on it as our minds bend to get distracted with other things. As you do the following breath practice, try to greet the comings and gonigs of your mind as both natural and inevitable . The important thing is to recognise when your attention has wandered and to gently bring it back to the breath.
If possible , allow yourself fifteen minutes or longer for this practice. You can choose to sit on a chair or cushion on the ground . If you choose a chair , place your feet flat on the floor with your legs uncrossed.Sit up straight but not rigidly , ensuring that your spine is self-supporting and not slouding against the back of the chair . If you choose a cushion , sit cross-legged with your buttocks raised by the cushion and your knees at a lower level touching the floor. This will reduce the strain on your back. This posture will feel open , upright and dignified , supportive of mindfulness practice.
Once you have found an upright , comfortable position, gently close your eyes and begin. For the first minute , or two, direct your attention ,with kindness and curiosity, to the sensations of your body . This can include focusing on where your body meets with the flooor and or/chair and any other sensations of contact that you are experiencing.
Gradually, shoft your awareness to your lower abdomen as it rises and falls with each breath. At the beginning , it may help to place your hand on your abdomen until you are tuned into physical sensations in this area. You can remove your hand as your focus depeens. If your mind wanders , or even if you fail asleep momentarily , bring your focus back, with kindness, to your lower abdomen and the steady flow of your breath.
You don’t have to change your breathing in any way . Allow your body to breathe as it would naturally in and out , your abdomen expending and contracting.
As best you can bring attitude of acceptance to the experience , surrendering to the moment . There is no need to change or fix anything. Even the slight pause and hitches in your breathing are natural, each breath unique and complete.
This awareness of the breath is central to all mindfulness practices . It is an invaluable tool that helps anchor us in the present moment so that we can be aware of what is really happening within ourselves as we go about our day.As you gain experience with the breath practice, you will notice in particular that your breathing changes with your moods , thoughts and body movements. You then can use your breathing to help deal with the pain, anger, relationships or stresses of daily life.
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