Top Tip #1: Breath Awareness
This the most simple and also the most powerful mindfulness technique that there is. There are only two breathing techniques that you really need to practice mindfulness. The first technique is to breathe in, and then breathe out; and the second is the breathe out and then breathe in. Either is fine and we don’t need to complicate things any more than that.
You don’t need to breathe in any particular way, you don’t need to think about breathing, just breathe, the breath happens all on it’s own. Even when you are asleep! Just bring your attention on to your breathing and notice how it feels to breathe. There is nothing else to do.
Try it now
You could chose a point inside one nostril and become aware of how it feels as the air flows in and out over that point or you could simply notice how your chest rises and with each in breath and how it falls with each out breath. Focus your attention on the movement of the air and the movement of your chest. Don’t think, just notice.
If you want to get really advanced you could practice abdominal breathing it takes a bit of practice, but in reality nothing could be more natural. It’s how you used to breathe before you got lost in your head and your body became ridged. It’s how babies breathe.
Start by noticing your breath. Now bring your attention onto your stomach. See if you can keep your chest fairly still and inflate your lungs by letting you stomach expand like a balloon. Go on, don’t be shy no need to hold it in, let your stomach expand, this will allow your diaphragm to come down and fill your lungs with air. You’ll find that your breath is far deeper when your breath this way, it’s also much more relaxed and slower because you get so much air with each breath. Now simply let your breath fall into a natural rhythm and bring your attention onto the experience of your stomach inflating and deflating with each in and out breath.
By bringing your attention on to the experience of breathing you are bringing your attention into the present moment. Your breath is always in the present moment you see, if you are breathing in the past or the future you are in really serious trouble! The breath is an anchor to the Now.
When you see your mind beginning to wander to past, future, problems, worries or daydreams, or what ever it does, don’t resist that, it’s what our minds do, it’s the nature of mind to wander; simply observe your minds tendency to wander and bring your attention back to the breath. Your thoughts will carry you away again and that’s fine, simply pull your attention back to your breath when ever you notice that your mind has wandered. Each time you bring your attention on to your breath you have returned to mindfulness and your awareness deepens.
It’s simple but by no means easy, there is a momentum to your mind – it has been running at full speed and it will take a while to slow down, but if you can make breath awareness a habit you’ll find that it’s a really powerful tool in helping you to cultivate mindfulness.
You have to breathe so why not do it mindfully!
Try the Breath Awareness meditation here – a free downloadable meditation you can use again and again.