Breathing is a natural process. For most of our lives we breathe without even having to think about it. Without the breath there is no life. Yet for many people, when it comes to breathing, there is an unexplored avenue that can hold many positive elements to creating a more joyful life. It is breathing with intention.
Breathing with intention can bring a whole new dimension to our lives and can act like an anchor to the present moment, helping us to become more mindful. Intentional breathing can be used as a wonderful tool to help us focus our attention, release stress and can help us to create a space around negative thoughts, images and emotions.
Imagine if you were lost at night and there was a deep fog surrounding you. You begin to panic, you cannot see any further than arms length, you can’t find a way out, no way to turn. Then suddenly you remember the powerful torchlight in your pocket. You take hold of it, turn it on full beam and shine it into the night. It then creates a path of light through the dense fog and at last you have a compass to lead you out of the confusion.
Intentional breathing can be used like this when you are overcome by negativity in any form, whether that be with worries, fears or anxieties. Your breath can be used as a powerful tool to shine a light through the fog of your own inner conflict and misunderstandings and lead you on the path of mindfulness, out of the confusion and into the natural joy of being.
There are many different ways, different practices and techniques that you can learn through a multitude of disciplines on how to use your breath for meditation purposes. You may already have a preferred practice than the one I am about to share with you. That is fine, if something works for you there is no need to change. The key I feel is to keep it simple. A successful tool for mindfulness is one that can be used in any moment, situation or scenario. Not just in a quiet room by yourself but also in the busyness of life. So now I invite you to follow these next few steps. I hope they will be of some benefit for you.
During this practise you may like to close your eyes to begin with as your mind can become easily distracted but eventually you will be able to use this mindfulness tool anywhere, any time and with your eyes open. Begin by being as relaxed as you can be. Try to be in a comfortable position. Choose a place if possible where you will not be disturbed just for this practise.
Now lets start by just noticing the natural rhythm of your breathing. That’s it for now, just being aware of breathing in and out without trying to change anything. Nice and relaxed. At this moment in time there is nothing else for you to do, nothing to even think about. Try it now.
After a few moments of just being aware of your natural rhythm of breathing you may like to also check in with yourself. How does your body feel? What can you hear around you? What can you smell if anything? Do the feelings, sounds or smells evoke an image, memory or some thought? Just be playful, again, allow all these things to be just as they are.
Now, when you are ready and feeling a little more relaxed you are going to inhale with intention this time through your nose keeping your mouth closed. As you inhale intentionally for the first time really become aware of the breath entering your nostrils. Bring your whole attention to the in-breath, slowly and deeply feeling the coolness of air, but do not strain. Breathe out with the same intention when you feel naturally the urge to exhale. Again, do so slowly and mindfully. Really relax into it. As you feel the warm air now leaving through your nose let your body loosen, your shoulders, your back, your whole body.
Continue with this simple observation and intention of your breath for as long as you please. If you suddenly find you have become distracted by thoughts, images or emotions losing your focus from the breathing practise do not become frustrated by this process. Do not try to stop these internal movements. Just for now, when you notice you lost your attention, observe these so called distractions for a moment then with a calm demeanour return to the observing and the intention of the breath.
This also applies to any external stimuli such as noises. If you were distracted for example by a car alarm or by people talking, again, once you realise you have lost your focus on the breath simply observe these external movements for a moment then return to breathing with intention. It is a state of allowing, of not resisting against what is for it is only your mind that labels these things as wrong or shouldn’t be happening. How do you know these things are supposed to be happening? Because they are. This doesn’t mean you can never act or perform actions, that you are some kind of mindless robot, it just means that you stop resisting life and from this place of acceptance you find that your actions are far more powerful from a place of mindfulness because your mind and body is then no longer saturated by negative thoughts and feelings.
What this practice also shows us is how the mind in everyday life becomes easily distracted by not only our own thoughts, images and emotions but also by the external world we live in. With practise, by simply observing the breath, this mindfulness tool will show you how your internal world and the external world no longer have to interrupt your inner peace and joy, your natural way of being. In time you will become more mindful, more focused and less distracted in your everyday life.
HOW TO USE THE BREATH IN OUR DAY TO DAY LIVES
So how can we incorporate this simple breathing practice into our everyday life in a practical manner? I like to use the rule of three. That’s three slow and deep intentional breaths and they can be done without anyone even knowing that you are doing it. The intentional breathing exercise that you have just practised can be brought into your everyday life. Remember, just for a short time, three breaths, that’s all. Have the intention and awareness of breathing a little more slowly and a little more mindfully. These intentional breaths can be done in a relaxed and quiet manner with your eyes open.
The great news about the rule of three is that is takes approximately around only thirty seconds to do. Within this very small time frame you can create what I like to call a sacred space.
I call it a sacred space because you can suddenly become mindful again using this breathing practice. Even if you are in a busy, noisy place you don’t have to wait until you are at home in a quiet room or until you are at a nature reserve or park for example just to find peace.
The beautiful thing about creating this sacred space is that it gives you a moment to refocus, to not get lost in strong emotions like stress and anxiety which are always accompanied by negative self talk. It gives you a moment to regain your clarity, a moment of spaciousness which helps you deal with any situation in a more kind and understanding manner to not only others but yourself also.
So if you are in a busy and stressful work environment, or trying to get the kids ready for school when you are running late, or driving in rush hour traffic, whatever it may be, these three simple breaths can make all the difference. I promise you.
By creating a small sacred space in the matter of less than a minute, this can make all the difference in those times where you would otherwise feel that your only way out is to give way to negative emotions and thoughts. These types of emotions and thoughts eventually have an impact on your interactions with others and the actions you carry out. They are usually expressed by ourselves through anger, stress and frustration but by being more mindful you are less likely to act on such dispositions.
POWER OF A SINGLE BREATH
Lastly, for those of you who feel that three breaths is still not possible then I invite you to at least try one breath. A single intentional breath lasts only seven to fifteen seconds at most and can still be a very powerful tool to use throughout your day even in the more quiet periods of your day. Believe it or not the quiet periods can sometimes be a persons least mindful moment as they have time to dwell on aspects of their lives that bring them suffering and unhappiness by the very thoughts that they are dwelling upon. It could even be the case that you are simply bored, or have a sense of unease, or it could be that you are unable to even enjoy your own company. To enjoy just being.
So a single mindful breath can still create a beautiful sacred space and give you a moment where you remember the peace that exists within, the true being that you are. It can help to quiet the mind, the self talk within your head and any inner turmoil of negative emotions.
MORNING AND NIGHT
Even if for some reason you forget during your day to use the breath as a tool for mindfulness or you feel that its just not practical at this point in time I at least invite you to take three mindful breaths once in the morning and once at night. Just to begin with. That’s only thirty seconds and you never know, those thirty seconds might grow into minutes. Although it’s not about how long, it’s about learning how to be more mindful no matter what situation you find yourself in. For as you will come to know, being mindful or we could say being at peace, is your natural way of being.
These posts are part of my mindfulness course, “A Little Piece of Mindfulness for Everyday Living”. This is a mindfulness course borne out of my own experiences and spontaneous living. It is not a programme for you to follow as a set routine in a robotic kind of fashion. It is simply to inspire you to live a more mindful life. To learn to live in the present moment and to show you that it is possible to live a life of spontaneous joy, peace and harmony.
Let us together, step by step, through our daily living, through the love of our hearts and the peace of our minds, touch the souls of others and raise the vibration of the planet so that we may all live in a more peaceful, compassionate and loving world. Namaste ॐ