Breathing Lessons

Breathing Lessons

There are many approaches to mindfulness, but here is a good place to start.

1. Find a quiet place. Sit comfortably and close your eyes. Take a few moments to simply be. Notice whatever is happening inside you and in your environment—sounds, physical sensations, thoughts, feelings—without trying to do anything about it. Continue this for five minutes or so.

2. Now bring your attention to the breath. Simply notice the breath as it moves in and out though your nostrils. Don’t try to manipulate it in any way.

3. The mind will wander. This doesn’t matter. Each time you notice you are no longer observing the breath, this is a moment of mindfulness. Simply bring your attention back to the in-breath and out-breath.

4. Allow thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations to come and go. Notice that when you allow these “interferences” to arise without pursuing them, that they pass away naturally of their own accord. There is no need to push, resist, or fight with the mind. This only creates more distraction.

5. Stay awhile. Remain sitting with eyes closed for 10 more minutes (15 minutes total). Use an egg timer to keep time for you—this will free you from the need to watch the clock. Once the timer goes off, take two to three minutes to record your experience in a “mindfulness journal.” Repeat this practice once a day for a month. After one month, increase your sitting time to 20 minutes.

In time, you will notice the great benefits of this simple practice, which can be done anywhere at any time. You will become aware of the tendencies of your mind, how it resists certain experiences and tries to hold onto others, how it becomes tangled up in thinking and prevents you from being able to focus. The more sensitive you become to these tendencies, the clearer and more balanced your mental state will be.