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Look after yourself – 3 minute breathing space

This is a brief mindfulness exercise which can be used when thoughts are spiralling in a negative direction, or when you have a sense of being stuck with a complex, draining task.

  1. To begin with, stand with the back erect but not stiff. Ltting the body express a sense of being present and awake.
  2. Now, closing your eyes, if this feels comfortable, take the first step of becoming aware of what is going on with you right now.
  3. Become conscious of what is going through your mind: what thoughts are around? As best you can, just note your thought as mental events…so we notice them, and then we notice the feelings that are around at the moment…in particular, turning toward any sense of discomfort or unpleasant feelings.
  4. Rather than try to push away these feelings or shut them out, just notice them, perhaps saying, “Ah there you are; that’s how it is right now.”
  5. Similarly, with sensations in the body… are there sensations of tension, of holding, of letting go? Again, be aware of them, simply noting whatever is arising in this moment.
  6. You have a sense of what is going on right now, having stepped out of automatic pilot.
  7. The next step is to collect your awareness by focusing on a single act – the movement of the breath. So now really gather yourself, focusing your attention down in the movements of the abdomen, the rise and fall of the belly as the breath moves in and out…spending a minute or so to focus on the motion of the abdominal wall, moment by moment, breath by breath, as best you can right here, right now.
  8. Notice when the breath is moving in, and when the breath is moving out, being with the breath as it moves into your body and out, binding your awareness to this process, to be present right now.
  9. The next step, is allowing your awareness to expand to the entire body, bringing a more spacious awareness to your experience, letting the breath be present but in the background. Bringing attention to the entire length of the body from head to toe, including any tightness or sensations related to holding or bracing.
  10. In this moment hold your awareness in this space, breathing in and breathing out.
  11. Pause and allow the silence to linger
  12. And when you are ready, open your eyes, and let go of this brief practice.