How to Practice Mindfulness of the Breath
Being mindful of the breath is simple, but that doesn’t make it easy. In our busy world, we often forget to check in with what is right here, such as with the breath, the body, or our emotions. However, once we are versed in simple grounding techniques such as mindfulness of the breath, we will have access to peace and presence in any moment.
Why is Breath Awareness Important?
The breath is with us at all times. Even when we sleep, it is guided by an innate force that nourishes and sustains us. For centuries, ancient traditions have understood the importance of the breath. Mindfulness of this life force dates back to at least 500 BC in Buddhist tradition.
When we tune into the breath, we ease the racing mind and also the sympathetic nervous system. This part of the nervous system, which helps us to manage stressors, is often in overdrive in modern society. This chronic ‘on’ position can leave us feeling depleted and wreak havoc on the balance of various bodily systems (i.e. the endocrine system, the nervous system, and the immune system). Breath awareness is therefore a simple tool to create more balance and to enhance overall wellbeing.
How to Practice Breath Awareness
There exists numerous awareness of breath meditation practices that can guide us through simple breathing exercises. For a simple introduction that will take less than one minute, consider this:
- 1Find a comfortable seated position where you can comfortably and safely close your eyes and tune inwards for one minute. When you are ready, close your eyes and turn your attention towards the breath.
- 2Without changing the breath in anyway, simply notice what it feels like to breathe. You can do this by noting the air as it enters and exits the body or by watching the rise and fall of the belly as you breathe.
- 3Practice this for a few full breaths at minimum, and when you are ready, slowly open your eyes back up to the world. Notice how you feel.
This worksheet will guide you through a slightly more in-depth awareness of breath meditation than this simple outline. However, it is always important to remember that mindfulness of the breath need not be complicated; it is profound enough in its simplicity.
For additional resources, you might consider: