Experiencing the breath
The one thing that is a constant for as long as we live is our breath. This can be a comfort when everything else around us feels out of control. Yes, our breathing will feel different at times, depending on levels of physical activity and the emotions we’re experiencing. But until the day we die, our breath will always be with us. So, it makes sense to get to know it intimately!
It’s good to set a time for several times a day to check in with the breath. I use the Virtual Motivaider app – it’s a great way to remind yourself to be still and get present, and will alert you as often as you set it for. Of if you prefer more old school ways of doing things, put post-it notes somewhere you’ll see them often. When I first started consciously getting in touch with my breath, I’d check in with myself three times during the day. Even if it means running off to the loo for five minutes peace and quiet, it’s five minutes well spent!
Set a timer on your phone, sit down somewhere, and close your eyes. Just become aware of your breathing, without trying to change anything. Are your breaths deep or shallow? Fast or slow? Try not to add any judgement or justification, just notice. Where in the body are you feeling it strongest? In your nose? Your throat? Your chest? Or your belly? Don’t try and breathe from anywhere else, just notice where is it strongest. If it changes naturally during the time you’ve set aside, just notice that too. If your mind wanders and you get distracted from the breath, don’t worry – just notice when this happens and bring your attention back to the breath until your timer goes off.
Over time, try and build up the amount of time you spend with this kind of focus. But a word of caution – if you start off trying for too long you risk getting very easily distracted and therefore disheartened. By building up gradually, you allow yourself to feel a sense of progression and achievement – and you’ll find yourself becoming more present in your life when you’re not in the middle of formal practice too!