The sun sets and we feel sadness without realizing that we carry the sun inside of us.
When we breathe, we shine that light on our innermost selves.
Today I’d like to share what it means to me to breathe mindfully.
To begin this practice, sit or lay in a way that’s most comfortable to you. Sometimes that may be cross legged on a cushion, or just in a chair, or it may be sprawled on your bed, palms up. The beauty of breathing is that we can do it any way and at any time because it is necessary for life.
You may be questioning why we’re talking about the breath when it’s something that we do regularly without thinking about it. I’d like to pose the thought that this is exactly why we should be doing it mindfully. How many actions do you carry out through your day without paying attention to them, without appreciating their full weight and necessity? The breath is the foundation of life, and so to learning to breathe with mindfulness will make practicing mindfulness in all of our other practices much easier.
When you’re in your comfy position, close your eyes and take a few breaths.
As you inhale, say to yourself, “breathing in, I am aware that I am breathing in.” On the exhale, “Breathing out, I am aware that I am breathing out.” Or simplify it, “Inhale. Exhale. In. Out.”
Notice the quality of the breath. Is it short? Long? Either way, that’s okay. We are not here to judge ourselves or judge our breaths. There is no “right” breath. There is simply breath. As you notice the quality of your breathing, imagine holding a stone in the palm of your hand, and of examining its quality. Do you judge the stone as good or bad? No, you simply look.
As you notice the quality of breath, I invite you also to notice where in your body you feel those breaths the most. Do you feel the rise and fall of your belly as they swirl around in there? Or do they get stuck in your throat or chest? Mine often do. Again, that’s okay. Right now we’re just watching.
Now, on the next in breath, imagine the flow spilling through every tiny crack in our being. Imagine the light gently flowing deeper with each inhale, through your arms, elbows, the tips of your fingers, and down through your clavicle, your sternum, your diaphragm, your belly, your knees, and into the ground beneath you. With each exhale, imagine the light coursing back the way it came, flowing out through your mouth.
As the breath deepens, you may notice the light deepening, reaching through deeper parts of your body. Take note of where you feel the breath with each sequence. You may find that when you acknowledge that breath, and where it falls in your body, it begins to deepen as it becomes more comfortable, begins to trust you. This is you. This is evidence of you beginning to trust yourself. Abide in that sensation.
When you open your eyes, notice the room around you. Does it feel different than it did when you closed your eyes? If not, that’s okay. It’s not necessary. Just notice how you feel.
As you go about your day, carry that sensation of the breath sinking into you. When you begin to feel your breath get lodged in your collarbone, remember this exercise. Come back here whenever you need grounding, or practice it as a ritual to start your day with mindfulness and intention.
The beauty of breath as medicine is that it is available to you always, at any time, and any place.
As always, feel free to share your experience with these mindful breaths in the comments below or in an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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