Start Your Day by Connecting with Your Breath

20 Minutes: Tap into your capacity to be in touch the present moment, as it is.

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Good morning! On this last day of our Mindful Spring Refresh, give yourself 20-minutes to connect with your breath and experience the moment as it is.

Begin Your Day By Connecting with Your Breath

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1) Recognize that my words are merely guides to things you inherently know. Whether you’re sitting on a chair, or on the floor, or lying down, or for that matter standing if you need to be standing. Allowing your eyes to be either open, with the gaze stable and unfocused in front of you, or gently closed. Use my words merely as pointers to your own interiority, your own inner experience from moment to moment, so that what is important is your experience.

2) Explore your motivation and your breath. Gradually allow your attention to alight gently on the breath, moving in and out of the body. Featuring as a primary focus some region in your body where the breath sensations are most vivid for you right now. That might be in the belly, or at the nostrils, or a larger sense of the entirety of each breath moving from the nostrils down into the belly if you will.

3) Allow your breath to be as it is. And without forcing or striving or efforting, as best you can, just gently riding on the waves of your own breathing, moment by moment, as a leaf might ride on the waves on the surface of a pond. Allowing your intention to include the full embracing of each and every breath gently, lightly with mindfulness, so that the breath is known, felt, experienced, in the moment of its arising. Just this very moment with the breath moving and the feeling, sensing, knowing of the breath as it is, moment by moment, breath by breath, sitting here, resting in awareness itself. Featuring in this moment this breath.

4) Observe your wandering mind. Sooner or later, it’s inevitable that we will discover that the mind has a life of its own. Even with the strongest of intentions to keep our attention on the breath and sustain it breath by breath, it’s hard not to notice after a while, that that intention may get sidetracked, hijacked, diverted, and we become absorbed in some other activity of mind. Note when your mind has wandered. Simply, and open-heartedly and affectionately noting what’s on your mind in this moment. If the breath is no longer center stage in the field of awareness, what is? In the noting, seeing, feeling, sensing what’s on your mind.

5) Allow yourself to be aware of the breath again. So when you are recognizing that the mind has drifted or wandered, that recognizing function is already back. That is awareness, awareness itself. We simply pick up on how the breath is in this moment. Ride the waves of the breath. So aiming, if you will, the attention on the breath, and then as best you can sustaining the attention on the breath by riding on the waves of the breath sensations, and when you become aware that the mind has drifted and is no longer on the breath over and over and over again, gently, kindly compassionately just noting what the mind is up to now. Allowing it to be exactly as it is, and just in that reconnecting with the breath, which is also an already here.

6) Embrace this act of loving-kindness. And perhaps sensing that this very act of attention, this very act of being present in this way, this very act of persisting, in aiming and sustaining, of establishing yourself in a posture that embodies dignity and presence, is a deliberate, intentional act, nothing less than a radical act of loving-kindness toward yourself. That is a radical act of love, just to meet the breath, to embrace the breath and the fluctuations of your own mind in this way. Be awake with no agenda other than to be awake. Resting here fully awake with no agenda other than to be awake, to be knowing of this breathing. You’re not shutting out the soundscape or anything else in the field of awareness, but simply featuring the breath center stage and allowing everything else to be in the wings.

7) Allow each in-breath to be utterly fresh, a new beginning. Allowing each out-breath to be a complete letting go. Letting go of the future, even the next breath, and simply being utterly present with this breath, this moment, this sitting here, this being human, this being awake to your life, expressing itself as breathing. Embrace each breath in this moment. And in the few remaining moments of this sitting, if your posture is collapsed or if your attention has in some way collapsed, seeing if you can re-establish the lightest of touches. Just this moment, just this breath, just drinking in the air. This flowing of the air through the body, this giving and receiving of the air, this unfolding of life, moment, moment by moment, in awareness.

Research On the Power of the Breath:

Recent studies revealed that our in-breath is like a remote control for our brains: by breathing in through our nose we are directly affecting the electrical signals linked to our memory and emotional brain centers. In this way, we can control and optimize brain function using our in-breath, to have faster, more accurate emotional discrimination and recognition, as well as improve our memory. Changing our breathing patterns and bringing conscious awareness to our breath will quickly bring our mind into a peaceful and still place. We can focus on our breath at any time, anywhere, so that it becomes a true friend.

Read More About the Breath:

About the author

Jon Kabat-Zinn

Jon Kabat-Zinn is the founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) as well as the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He is author of Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness; Wherever You Go, There You Are; Coming to Our Senses; and Mindfulness for Beginners. He trains, teaches, and lectures throughout the world on applications of mindfulness and is Professor of Medicine Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.


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