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CONSCIOUSLY ARRIVING TO THE BREATH
"Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky
Conscious breathing is my anchor"
(Thich Nhat Hanh)
Thich Nhat Hanh, Pema Chodron and many other spiritual teachers speak of Conscious Breathing as the path to transformation .. helping us to be present and anchor our awareness in the 'now' so that we have an opportunity to learn more about ourselves and reflect on our potential actions before acting habitually. We become present to this exact moment with an open attitude and a fresh mind.
Conscious Breathing can be practiced anywhere, anytime: when walking to the bus, parking the car, having a latte with a girlfriend, or working at your desk. With practice we find that we become more able to pause and Consciously Breath in those more difficult moments .. like when you are having an argument, have been hurt or are having your 'buttons' pushed.
Try it and see!
1. PAUSE whatever you are doing and bring your full attention to the fact that you are breathing. In time you will be able to shift your attention to the breath at any time, even when on the telephone or eating.
2. NOTICE how you are sitting or standing or walking. this moment? Can you feel your feet touching the earth, or your buttocks weighing into the chair? Scan through your body in this moment and take stock of where you feel your body, what sensations or movement are you aware of in your body right now.
3. ALLOW your eyes to soften to the immediate environment around you. Don't search for something to look at, allow the world around you to slow as well. Keep aware of your breath and simply notice your immediate surrounding, engage with what you see in your world and your breath at the same time. See and breathe.
4. EXHALE. As you exhale see if you can 'let go' a little, like you might relax after a long walk. Put down the load you are carrying (inner and outer), soften your shoulders, release your facial muscles, unclench your jaw. Each time you exhale relax a little more.
5. SHIFT. As the body releases you can rest all your attention on your breath, the rhythm of your breath in this moment is unique .. watch how you breath-in and breath-out. Observe and sense the breath but do not try to change it. Where do you notice your breath most deeply in this moment? Like sitting with a friend in the park, smile and just sit awhile. Don't concentrate too hard, just rest and watch.
6. FOCUS ON YOUR BREATH. For three cycles of breath (inhalation and exhalation = one cycle) be totally mindful of just your breath .. from the moment you feel the urge to breath in, right through the stages of inhalation and lungs expanding, to the point you can take in nothing further and then the moment your body indicates it is time to exhale, right through to the very end of the very last vestige of breath .. and the special moment of 'nothingness' at the end of the exhalation (the pause) .. until you breath in again. Watch.
7. KINDNESS. If you notice your mind has wandered off then learn to be kind with yourself and come back to watching the breath. Our attitude to our wandering mind will determine our meditation experience. Be kind and gentle with yourself when you notice you have been distracted, notice and then when you are ready .. simply return to the next breath. It is the noticing of having lost our focus that is the fruit of our practice .. so we can again choose to return to our practice .. again, again and again.
"This breath is the one that counts"
You might like to read a little more about mindfulness and Conscious Breathing from Pema Chodron and Thich Nhat Hanh
And .. at the end of the day all you need to do is just breathe and notice!