Friday, October 10, 2014

Mindfulness: Awareness of Breath

h/t Kids Outdoor Games
Are you as mindful as a first grader?
In my office young children are eager to learn how to calm down by focusing on breathing We have applied this basic technique to manage test anxiety, fear of public speaking, and emotional dysregulation (aka moodiness). Since children are accustomed to being in the role of learner they are typically open minded and excited to learn about meditation and mindfulness.

The adults are a bit more skeptical- "What difference can breathing make?"

Ask any asthmatic or panic attack sufferer and they will tell you that breathing makes a BIG difference.  Breathing is so basic to our living we lose awareness of its significance.

From the moment of our birth to the time of our death our breathing is working for us without conscious thought.  It is a natural recycling system that takes in oxygen from outside of us and circulates it throughout our bodies and brains.  Our breath then reflexively carries carbon dioxide waste from inside of us and releases it into the air.  Breathe in fresh- breathe out stale.  Is it so surprising that this system is integral to emotional and physical healing?

Try this at home:

Sit in a comfortable, relatively quiet, place with your spine straight
Set an alarm for three minutes
Close your eyes
Direct your attention to your breathing
When a thought comes to you redirect your attention to your breathing
Notice the natural rhythm of your breath
Do not try to change the rhythm in any way
Notice how it feels flowing from your nose
Notice how it feels in your chest
Notice how it feels in your belly

Mindfulness is synonymous with awareness.  I hope this exercise increased your awareness today. Imagine the possibilities if you were to intentionally set aside time each day to focus on your breath.