Awareness and Breathing
Becoming aware of the present moment is at the heart of mindfulness. Meditations are commonly used to help to develop this awareness.
Today’s task below will give you a flavor of what to expect. But remember that the aim is not to learn to meditate – this is just learning to use a tool – but to develop awareness.
Your breathing is something that is always happening in the moment. But because it happens as an almost involuntary impulse – you have to consciously stop it happening – we don’t notice it much of the time.
At the same time, it is fairly easy to become aware of your breathing since you can easily feel the sensation of the breath coming in and going out. You can also note its depth and speed and you may also be able to perceive changes in your breathing or in other parts of your body. So your breathing is useful as something to focus on, and a good place to start, in your efforts to become aware of the moment.
Task for Today
As well as being a useful place to start, focusing on breathing is also something you can easily do almost any time or any place. So, make yourself comfortable in a place where you won’t be disturbed for the next few minutes and then read slowly through the following a couple of times.
Look straight ahead. Keep your eyes open although you may lower them a bit if you wish.
Become aware of your breathing – in and out. Don’t change the pace or depth of your breathing in any way.
Don’t judge or compare your breathing, just be aware of it happening.
Become aware of the various physical sensations – the air passing through your nostrils (or your mouth), your lungs expanding and contracting, your diaphragm rising and falling.
Try to follow a breath as it moves into your body, into your lungs, and then out again.
Your mind will wander. That’s perfectly natural. But when it does, become aware that it has done so. Recognize that it has wandered, but don’t focus on the thoughts that have come into your mind. Just recognize them as thoughts, let them pass out of your mind without further analysis, and then bring your mind back to your breathing.
Every time you find your mind wandering do exactly the same thing, no matter how many times you have to do so.
Make sure you understand the words and now read through this passage again. But this time try to follow the instructions with your aim being to do what the words say rather than reading the words.
This is not a meditation as such, but you will see later that this short exercise reflects the first meditation you will do.
OK? Go ahead now. Try to stretch it out to about a minute, or two if you can.
When finished, note down in your journal any impressions you have or any thoughts about today’s task. Don’t force yourself to do this – if you do not wish to write anything then don’t do so.
And above all, don’t judge either this short exercise or your ‘ability’ to follow it.