It sounds incredibly simple, and it is. And one of the advantages of using breathing asa tool in developing mindfulness, is that it’s always available, and it’s free. Breathing brings mind and body together.
With breathing as the object of our attention, calm naturally arises, and with it we can see how scattered the mind can be and how elusive full concentration really is.
If practised regularly, one’s ability to maintain concentration will improve, and as one’s interest in this form of meditation grows, it becomes quite natural to want to practice for longer. As one’s concentration improves, staying in the present moment becomes more and more natural.
Observing the breath as it is
Take pauses today to bring your full attention to the breathing, just as it is. See where you feel it most – at the nose, the lungs or in the movement of the belly. There’s no need to change it. Just observe what the body does for us.
To help keep your attention on the breath, it can help to use words – just saying to yourself, silently, ‘breathing in’ on the in-breath, and ‘breathing out’ on the out-breath. By the way, it helps to keep the spine upright so that you stay alert, but relaxed. See if you can take at least three pauses today to do this.
Another simple technique to help with concentration, is to count the breaths. Just count up to 7 on each out-breath, then back down again. If you lose count or the mind wanders, don’t be self critical, just carry on.
Letting go on a longer outbreath
Today you can start to make a change in a way that’s scientifically proven to reduce stress quickly. All you do, is to lengthen the out-breath. So as you bring attention to the physical sensation of breathing, you deliberately make the out breath longer and deeper than the in-breath.
The 10 second re-boot
Today we’re going to go further with yesterday’s longer outbreath technique. Try this today whenever a stress trigger hits you. There are three parts to it. First you lengthen the outbreath, but you also smile, and feel your feet in connection with the floor.