Three Step Breathing Space
Finding time for mindfulness practice may be challenging but the benefits are well worth our effort. Research shows that doing brief 3-5 minute mindfulness practices 3 times a day will have beneficial impact on your health, well-being, productivity and overall life satisfaction.
To support your effort do the following practice whenever you have a few minutes, however it is best to put a couple times on you calendar each day to help you prioritize your practice.
The following guided mindfulness practice is excerpted from The Mindful Way through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness, book by Mark Williams, John Teasdale, Zindel Segal, and Jon Kabat-Zinn
The three-step breathing space is used as both a foundational mindfulness practice that can be used one or more times each day, as well as a practice to respond to challenging situations and feelings that arise during your day. This practice helps you to intentionally separate an unpleasant experience into thoughts, feelings, and body sensations which allows the mind to respond more creatively to the challenges you face each day.
STEP 1. BECOMING AWARE
Begin by deliberately adopting an erect and dignified posture, whether you are sitting or standing. If possible, close your eyes. Then, bringing your awareness to your inner experience, ask: What is my experience right now?
What thoughts are going through the mind? As best you can, acknowledging thoughts as mental events, perhaps putting them into words.
- What feelings are there? Turning toward any sense of emotional discomfort or unpleasant feelings, acknowledging their presence.
- What body sensations are here right now? Perhaps quickly scanning the body to pick up any sensations of tightness or bracing.
STEP 2. GATHERING
Then redirect your attention to focus on the physical sensations of the breath breathing itself.
Move in close to the sense of the breath in the belly…feeling the sensations of the belly wall expanding as the breath comes in…and falling back as the breath goes out. Follow the breath all the way in and out, using the breathing to anchor yourself in the present.
STEP 3. EXPANDING
Now expand the field of your awareness around your breathing so that, in addition to the sensations of the breath, it includes a sense of the body as a whole, your posture, and facial expression.
If you become aware of any sensations of discomfort, tension, or resistance, zero in on them by breathing into them on each in-breath and breathing out from them on each out-breath as you soften and open. If you want to, you might say to yourself on the out-breath. “It’s okay…whatever it is, it’s already here: let me feel it.” As best you can, bring this expanded awareness into the next moments of your day.