Breath awareness is a foundational concept within the practice of mindfulness. The following exercise helps you draw non-judgemental awareness to your breath in the present moment and is an excellent exercise to return to throughout your mindfulness practice.
You can practice this exercise alone or have someone read it to you.
Check in. Take a few moments to arrive and settle in to where you are seated, bringing your awareness into your mind and body. Allow your eyelids to become heavy, softening your gaze or bringing them to a closed position, if that is comfortable for you. Acknowledge how you are feeling and let it be.
Gently shift your attention to your breath. Pay attention to the fact that you are breathing, being aware of the movement of your breath as it comes into your body and leaves through the nose or mouth. Simply notice how it feels to be breathing, right now, in this moment.
Take mindful breaths. Without feeling the need to change the breath in any way, pay attention to the sensation of the breath entering the nose, the rise and fall of your chest as the lungs expand and relax. Notice if you can feel the breath in, around, and in the deepest part of your belly. Feel the belly expand as you breathe into your whole body, and fall back toward your spine when you breathe out.
Notice the wandering mind. If you find yourself getting distracted by an unrelated thought or sound somewhere in the room, without judgment, gently guide your attention back to your breathing, back to observing how it feels to draw the breath in and out of your whole body.
Slowly return to the room. At your own pace, normally and naturally take 3 more full breaths in and out. When you are ready, on the next breath in, let your eyelids drift apart and open, returning to the room and the present moment. Give yourself a moment to think about how this practice felt to you – focusing just on your breath for a couple of minutes.
Breath Awareness Exercise from the Mothers and Babies One-On-One Participant Manual. Adapted for MamaWise.