It’s a New Year and like most years I have some resolutions. This year I am resolving to sit in silence more often, for longer periods of time and engage in more mindful breathing. Whew, easy right? I resolve to sit and breath.
There are many studies and articles written about the countless benefits to mediation and mindful breathing. Some include helping with anxiety, heart disease, insomnia, while increasing immune function and memory. For me, I always feel more positive and am able to manage stress better. I can gain new ways of seeing things.
If you are new to this practice it can seem really challenging. We are leading busy lives and taking time away from the to-do list to sit may be the biggest challenge you will face. Start small. Five minutes. Once you have set aside the time, the next step is to find a comfortable seat. This may look very different from your mediation book sitting on your coffee table. I like to sit cross-legged on a block or blanket, knees resting on the ground. You may feel great here but if not find a seat that gives you room to breath and you can sustain for 5 minutes without wanting to scream. Use a chair if you need.
Close your eyes and bring awareness to your breath. Inhale and exhale. Inhale and exhale. Fill your body with your breath and just notice how it feels. If things come up for you, what to make for dinner, did you feed the cat etc… Just let them pass through. They will be there when you are done and in five minutes nothing will change so just let the thoughts come and then let them go as easily.
If closing your eyes is a challenge try focusing your attention on one thing. Last summer I used a flower off our back patio for my practice quite a bit and it gave me a different way to practice. Just focus on the one thing. Some days my practice was 5 minutes of me just saying I will not look away for 5 minutes… I will not look away….. but usually it just felt right and restful to stare at the flower.
Another alternative is to take a mindful walk by your self. No cell phone or IPod or even pet. Just you, the fresh air and your breath.
I hope this helps you get started on the path of taking some time in your day to experience quiet and the beauty of your breath, inspires you to pick up a practice you have left or finds you continuing on.
We will add on to this practice in the following weeks with some tips from Lauren on our next post.