La Trobe Counselling Service
- Mindfulness of the Breath
1. Bring attention to your breathing.
2. Follow the air as it comes in through your nostrils and goes down to the bottom of your lungs. Then follow it as it goes back out again.
3. Follow the air, as if you’re riding the waves of your breathing
4. Notice the air move in and out of your nostrils…how it’s slightly warmer as it comes out and cooler as it goes in
5. Notice the gentile rise and fall off your abdomen (belly)
6. Fix your attention on one of these areas, whichever you prefer; on the breath moving in and out of the nostrils, on the rise and falling of the ribcage, or the rising and falling of the abdomen (belly)
7. Fix your attention on one of these areas, whichever you prefer; on the breath moving in and out of the nostrils, on the rising and falling of the ribcage, or the rising and falling of the abdomen.
8. Keep your attention on this spot, noticing the movement – in and out – of the breath.
9. Whatever feelings, urges or sensations arise, whether pleasant or unpleasant, gently acknowledge them – as if nodding your head at people passing by you on the street. Gently acknowledge their presence, and let them be. Allow them to come and go as they please, and keep your attention on the breath.
10. Whatever thoughts, images or memories arise, whether comfortable or uncomfortable, simply acknowledge them and allow them to be. Let them come and come and go as they please, and keep your attention on the breath.
11. From time to time, your attention will become distracted by thoughts or feelings. Each time this happens, notice what distracted you, then bring your attention back to the breath. No matter how often your attention wanders off – whether a hundred times or a thousand – your aim is to simply to note what distracted you, and bring your attention back to the breath.
12. There is no need to be frustrated or impatient or disappointed when you get carried off by your thoughts. It is the same for everyone. Our minds naturally distract us from what we are doing. So each time you realise your attention has wandered, gently acknowledge it, notice what distracted you, and return your attention to the breath.
13. If frustration, boredom, anxiety, impatience or other feelings arise, simply acknowledge them, and maintain your focus on the breath.
14. No matter how often your attention wanders, gently acknowledge it, not what distracted you, and gently bring your attention back to the breath.
15. When you are ready, bring yourself back to the room and open your eyes.
Practise Instructions: Initially practise this for 5 minutes twice a day. Aim to increase the duration by 2 or 3 minutes every few days, until you can do this for 15-20 minutes at a time. Even if you only practise this for one minute each day, that is better that not practising at all.