Last week, I guided my email subscribers to spend the week observing their breath. (Want in? Sign up below!)
Why would you want to spend time observing your breath?
Because there's strong evidence linking breath quality to physical, mental, and emotional health. And then there's my own experience.
Being "in charge" of my breath has changed. my. life.
If you're new to observing your breath, here are some ideas for where to start.
Somewhere in observing the breath, even if you don't like doing it, you're likely to meet a part of yourself worth listening to.
Like the story from one of my students who is eager to learn how to use her breath to improve her mood throughout her day.
She read through my suggestions, pulled up a chair, sat down, closed her eyes, and started observing her breath.
Within less than a minute, she felt light headed. It was disconcerting.
Remembering that there is no right way to observe self, she opened her eyes.
Within another minute, she felt better. And as she continued to pay attention to her breath, she noticed feeling grounded. Calm. With her eyes open and able to take in her surroundings, she stayed connected to her physicality.
That was quite something for her.
Now, she keeps her eyes open. And she practices observing her breath in many situations --standing in line, walking the dog, or doing the dishes.
Breath observation can help us come back to "home base."
A big part of this is responding to what you notice.
Say you notice that observing your breath makes you strain to lengthen your exhale. No good! Go ahead and switch your focus to something mundane, like what's for dinner, to give your breath a change to regain normalcy.
Then, when you're ready, you might be able to reflect a bit. Can you tell what caused you to strain? Even if you're not sure, can you change something about your approach that might help you to avoid straining?
Taking action to change your situation can be the difference between giving up and finding a way to feel comfortable inside your own skin.
Here's a basic practice that can help us all find our way --through unique experiences-- to a comfortable breath.
That's it. Sounds simple, but it's effective.
No need to take my word for it. Fit in five minutes daily (shucks, I'll take weekly), and you'll be able to tell me what it's doing for you.
Send me your comments below, I read and respond to every message. And hey, if you end up finding this useful, share it with your friends. Everyone's gotta breathe, right?
Observing with you,