Breath Explorations

 

Today, stay in bed for a little longer. I want you to look towards the ceiling, stretch your arms wide, and stretch your legs long. Do this following your breath. 

It is simple; it goes like this: 

  1. As you lay in bed looking above you (you can also do this on the floor using a yoga mat or on your balcony laying on a carpet or the bare floor), I want you to take deep breaths in, feeling how your whole body increases in size. 
  2. On the outgoing flow, I want you to stretch your fingertips and toes outwards as if the outgoing breath was leaving throughout your fingers and toes. 
  3. Count every breath you take in by first counting from one to three, and as you progress, try to reach the most you can. Do the same with the outgoing breath. Stick to the same numbers for both. 
  4. Do this a minimum of five times every morning until you can do this exercise for five minutes before starting the day. Then, all that is required is that you pay attention to your breath. 

Some of the things to keep in mind while practicing this are: 

  • The feeling of fullness from taking in air. 
  • How the air comes in and out and its sensation around your nostrils. 
  • How do the blankets feel on your fingers and toes as you stretch out? 
  • It is up to you if you want to add other things to pay attention to, but in the beginning, please refrain from engaging your mind in other thoughts besides the above-mentioned three things.  

I don’t want to complicate this practice more than it needs. And for this reason, I suggest that you start by following these basic steps. 

I have great respect for hundreds of meditation gurus out there. They suggest people do similar breathing routines, with added time for holding their breath between sets and more extended periods of inhalation and exhalation. This is often called Pranayama breathing.  

I am no guru, therefore, I wish for this to be a simple routine. However, our lives are already somewhat complicated and busy. For this reason, I suggest you stick with simply paying attention to your breath. In the “Where Am I?” book, part of the Essentials 101 For Our Youth series, we will go more in-depth with other practices you can choose from, depending on your life circumstances. But today, let’s stick to simple tools.

Be friendly and kind with your body. Consider the following advice as you progress: 

  • If you feel a little bit claustrophobic, stop immediately and focus on something else. 
  • If your mind is not allowing you to concentrate on the ins and outgoing aspect of your breathing, stop and do it later. 
  • If you start to feel numbness or sleepiness, enjoy those sensations, and return to your normal breathing. 

There is one more thing I will ask you to add to this simple practice: today when you start to prep your dinner, return to this breathing awareness, and as much as you can, try to concentrate on how your breathing occurs naturally. For this, do not count. Just observe the ingoing and outgoing breath. How it comes in and how it comes out. 

As you continue to do this, pick any other activity you do regularly and bring this awareness into it. Remember not to engage your mind in images or thought patterns that can take you away from the exercise. 

The more you develop this practice into a daily habit, the more you will become aware of your attention. And like a wise man once said: 

“The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus.”   Bruce Lee 

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