Developing Your Mindfulness Practice – Part 3

offeringWelcome to part 3 of developing your mindfulness practice. So far we have learned a simple breathing exercise and body scan. This week we are going to add on to the first breathing exercise. This practice requires 2-5 minutes of your time. Spend about 2 minutes on Breathing Exercise 1 to centre yourself.

Mindfulness Exercise 3:

Breathing Exercise 2

  • Find a comfortable seat. Begin Breathing Exercise 1 and then stop saying “inhale/exhale.” Simply sit quietly and focus on the breath. Try to sit as still as possible.
  • When a thought arises label it “thought” and go back to breathing. If a body sensation arises such a cramp/tingle/pain/ache/itch, label it “cramp/tingle/pain/etc” and go back to breathing.
  • At the beginning your experience might be this: Breathing….”thought”, breathing, “thought” “thought thought thought, breathing thought thought thought…..”

It is completely normal to think, however, try not to attach any significance to this. It is what it is. Over time and with practice, you might begin to notice this: “breathing, breathing, breathing, thought, breathing, breathing, breathing, thought”. The space between thoughts that arise gets longer. With practice you can start to become aware of the thoughts that arise. Is it a different unrelated thought each time, or are the thoughts that arise the same or are they related to a theme? Try not think of “thinking” as something negative or unwanted and try not to attach any meaning to the thoughts that do come up. We want to break the habit of over analyzing our thoughts and just let them come and go. There is no destination, it is about the Process.

In your journal, make a note about how you felt during this practice. What did you witness?



Developing Your Mindfulness Practice – Part 2

IMG_1626Welcome to Part 2 of my new blog series on simple and easy ways to develop your own Mindfulness practice. In Part 1, I taught a basic breathing exercise to get you started. This week we will focus on how to do a Body Scan. If you practice yoga this might sound familiar. Sometimes yoga teachers guide students through a body scan during Savasana at the beginning or end of class.

Mindfulness Practice 2:

The Body Scan

  • Do this first thing in the morning when you wake up or before you go to sleep because you are already lying down. This can also be done sitting. It only takes a few minutes.
  • Lying down or sitting. Get comfortable. Start with a few rounds of deep breathing.
  • The body scan involves starting at your toes and working up to your head, noticing how each body part feels – relaxed, tight, tense, etc.  Start with your toes…. feet…. ankles…. shins…. knees…. thighs…. hips…. waist…. belly…. ribs…. chest…. low back…. upper back…. shoulders…. upper arms…. elbows…. forearms…. wrists….. hands….. neck…. jaw…. eyes…. forehead….. ears…. top/side/back of head. (If this is too much to start try only: feet….legs….torso….arms…hands….head)
  • When you come to an area that is tight or tense, send your breath (visualize if you need) to that area and give it permission to let go of holding onto to that tension and begin to relax for 5-10 breaths.
  • With practice you can get more specific and do one side of the body at a time including each toe and finger as an example.
  • When the body scan is complete, finish with  a few rounds of deep breathing. Check in with how you feel.

If you have a mindfulness journal  make a quick note about your experience.