Tag: Breath

When we bargain

When you find yourself bargaining with your mindfulness practice, ask yourself why.

Bargaining with the teacher or method is one of the first things that happens in mindfulness introductory courses. (And, often, we continue bargaining with ourselves every single time we plan to sit down and practice.) We have read that mindfulness helps people cope with life in a hectic world, and often this gets translated into preconceived ideas about how or what mindfulness works, what exactly it is or how it should be done. “Can’t I go for a walk in nature instead of practising 12 minutes of sitting mindfulness meditation a day?” “I like practising lying down with soft music playing in the background”. “I’m too restless to sit down and focus on my breathing or do a body scan”.
The whole point is that we always need one crutch or another to be at ease. Yet nothing beats just sitting quietly with your eyes closed (initially) and your attention on your breath, your body, your physical, mental, emotional and “environmental” sensations, within and without. A large part of formal sitting practice is to train the ability to simply breathe and observe no matter what the internal or external turmoil. Observe that turmoil, that restlessness, those crazy thoughts. It’s the most exhilarating thing to be able to do. You can just sit there and “watch” it all go on and not having to run away, or stop it, or quench it, or distract yourself from it, or act on it, or fix it, or plan it away. Halleluja! That’s your peace, right there. This is not about relaxing. But it will relax you. No matter how “messy” your mindfulness session seems. No matter how brief it is. It’s your eye of your storm. Try it. Do it. Even if at first it is only for 1 minute.

#NZ Lockdown Day 16

Take a  few minutes to consider how your breath has been with you through thick and thin – and always will be, until you breathe your final outbreath. How it keeps going througout your sleep. How it only allows you to hold your breath for so long.

See if you can, randomly throughout the day, spare a moment to give attention to your breathing pattern, its rhythms or perhaps the times you almost “forget” to breathe or hold your breath.

Observe your breath closely for a moment.

Notice how the air feels as it enters your body and as it leaves. Where can you feel it – take your time to scan key parts; nostrils, mouth, chest, diaphragm, belly, torso. Pay attention to the natural gaps in your breathing pattern before you change from exhale to inhale and the other way around. Its tempo in all its variations. Is it shallow or deep, calm or hasty. Imagine that you can see the oxygen moving in and through your body.

Find as many details about your breath as you can, by observing and feeling. Conclude this exercise of focused attention by briefly writing down what you have noticed about your breath and breathing.

Difficulty concentrating? Try this

For a lot of people in so called lockdown here in New Zealand/Aotearoa, their main issue is difficulty concentrating. As you probably know (since you’re visiting this page), a meditation-a-day will help with mental clarity, mental peace and the ability to handle being here and now, not dwelling on the past or leapfrogging ahead to the future. Hopefully you’re able to find a quarter-of-an hour of time-out from others if you are in a “bubble” with more people. Hide under a duvet in the laundry wearing headphones if you must. Because here is a new recording for you to practise with if you wish: a guided, 14-minute, guided mindfulness meditation, with lots of silences – especially at the end. It focuses on breath, upper body and relaxation and of course, focus for the restless mind.

Also, I do think it is important to stay informed and not somehow hide under a rock while this COVID-19-thing is making its mark on the world. But there is so much information available and so much of it is only half the (currently available) story or fear-based biased rubbish, that reading or listening to the news isn’t always helpful, and the shouting crowd on social media sounds kind of extra nutty at the moment.

But this morning I found all my current questions answered in Kim Hill’s interview with British clinical virologist Dr Chris Smith (especially regarding whether or not to wear a face mask in public; currently a hot topic in many countries, including New Zealand/Aotearoa.  I felt their conversation was very sane, scientific and calming. So if you’re interested, this is the link to the interview for additional peace of mind.

Breathing in, I know I am breathing in…

This beautiful, simple, guided meditation was written by Thich Nhat Hahn. Some twenty years ago, I found it in a library book while on my seeking journey. I learnt it by heart, so I would be able to say it to myself on the rhythm of my breath. For a while I used it every time I sat in the hotpools at the New Plymouth’s aquatic centre after early morning swims. Then I forgot about it for a long time. When I started teaching mindfulness meditation for Mindfulness Works, I traced it down on the internet, because I remembered how grounded, calm, connected to all aspects of earth, nature and breath it would make me feel. I have recorded it for you to listen to and use if it appeals to you (click here). In the recording I’m repeating the meditation-poem three times to coincide with a medium speed breathing rhythm. It lasts just under 3 minutes. Alternatively, use these words to make your own recording to play back to yourself, or learn it by heart and use it on the rhythm of your breath. Use not just the words as words, but also as visualisation or imaginations or mind-pictures if you can: Breath, In, Out , Flower, Fresh, Mountain, Solid, Still, Water, Reflecting, Space, Free.

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