Mindful Breathing

“Mindfulness” – is becoming a more common term.  But what is it?  In a nutshell, it is the practice of being “mindful” or “living in the now” while noticing and accepting one’s feelings and bodily sensations.  Research has found it to significantly improve mood, lower stress and anxiety, and improve productivity.  This article is the first of a series of simple exercises you can use to truly experience this restful and trans-formative state.  Your counsellor can also talk with you about ways to practice these techniques.

Mindful breathing is a good place to start if you are new to the ideas and practices of mindfulness. It simply means focusing all your attention on your breath and the encompassing experience.

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It’s a great practice to get really familiar with. It is a “portable” practice, meaning you can do this anywhere, anytime. Ideally, you will be able to find a time and place that are both comfortable and relaxing to start.

 

Here’s How the Regular Practice Works

  1. Find a comfy and quiet place; you can be seated in a chair or a cushion on the floor.  If you practice this lying down you might fall asleep.
  2. Take a few deep breaths in through the  nose and out through the mouth.  After 3 or 4 breaths, gently close your eyes.  Now notice your body, scan it mentally and, without judgement, notice any places of comfort or tension.  Focus on the feeling of your body being supported by the chair, floor or bed.  Begin to relax the body from the top of the head to the toes. Do not judge how your body feels, just notice how it feels.
  3. Now focus deliberately on your breathing.  No need to change your breath, just focus on the natural pattern of inhalation and exhalation.  You can count with each breath to ten if that is easier – then start again.  Do this for a 5 – 7 minutes.
  4. If the mind wanders or day dreams, this is perfectly normal.  Just notice your thoughts have wandered and gently bring your focus back to your breath. Do not judge the thoughts or delve into them.  Just let them go and return to focussing on your breathing.
  5. After a few minutes, return your attention back to your body and it’s position on the floor, bed or chair.  Gradually open your eyes and congratulate yourself in practicing mindful breathing.