Mindfulness of Breathing

Mindfulness of Breathing
With every waking breath I breathe
I see what life has dealt to me
With every sadness I deny
I feel a chance inside me die

Breathe, Midge Ure & Ultravox

You are alive. You breathe. Simple, isn't it? Breathing is part of us, and as such we rarely pay attention to it. Your breathing is always there, but it is never the same. It comes and goes quickly when you are jaded or stressed, it flows slowly when you are happy and relaxed. Have you paid attention to your breathing lately?

In mindfulness meditation you need to focus your attention to something. You could pay attention to the touch of your hands together, or to the feelings of the top of your head. But these sensations are not strong enough to tame our mind when we are starting meditation. Your breath is always with you, strong and constant. It is a fantastic anchor to be mindful of. When you focus on it you are practicing mindful breathing. Expire deeply. Inspire. Repeat. Feel it from your nostrils to the bottom of your belly.

You can practice mindful breathing anywhere, anytime. From there, you can switch to being completely mindful, standing in complete awareness. Start by focusing on your breathing, let it be deep (breathe with your belly, not your shoulders!) and extend your expiration, let it flow out. Concentrate on this for a while. For me, seems that 10 to 15 minutes are the very least I need to extend my awareness.

After your initial mindfulness, let it soak into everything else. Be mindful of your surroundings, of the sounds that are sharing your journey. Feel your feet standing on the ground, your head up in the top.

I try to practice mindful breathing whenever I can. While on my commute, in the shower, while walking. Before beginning Zen, those were the moments that I used to reflect on my schedule, or used to think about what to write about. Or even these were used to try to solve problems that were appearing in my thesis. The first time I decided to use spare thinking moments for mindfulness, I was scared. All these 'useful' moments just thrown into the void!

This was in the first days of my 30 day meditation challenge. Then I discovered that surrendering these idle minutes helps incredibly my creativity. When I get out of mindfulness and start working in my thesis, or in writing a blog post, I have a constant stream of ideas. In some rare occasions, even too many!

Give mindful breathing a try. To see some effect (although you should do it just for mindfulness sake not expecting anything) do it as often as possible for at least a week.

And don't forget to drop a line here afterward in the comments section!

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Photo credit: A picture I took in our road trip through Iceland

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