notice your breath


Lying with limbs outstretched in yoga class, I am the picture of relaxation. Eyes closed and muscles unclenched, I appear to be totally relaxed. And yet, if you could tap into my brain… While physically present in this serene studio setting, my mind is gone, fast-forwarding to two days from now. I’m waiting to hear back about a potential meeting. Not one of those chance-of-a-lifetime-everything-hinges-on-this kind of meetings. Nope, just a casual plan. So my brain is going. If he says yes to the time I suggested, I would have to find somewhere to park. Where could I park at that time of day? What route would I have to take? My body is in this yoga class, but my brain is in my car, making turns and navigating one way streets. Then I notice this little trip and I almost laugh out loud. I mean, I’ve heard of micromanaging, but seriously! Planning the specific route and parking plan for a meeting that may or may not actually happen two days from now? That’s a whole other level.

The nature of the mind is to wander. It likes to ponder and figure things out. However, it can be a little too eager and intense about it all, which leads to the negative consequences of stress. Muscle tension, headaches, digestive issues, heart problems – all of these are related to stress, which in my case often shows up as over-thinking, obsessing over every little detail, and pressuring myself to figure it all out.

Being present is the magical antidote to stressful thinking. 

You may have tried a yoga class and had the experience of the stress of the day melting away, leaving you at peace in the moment. In my years teaching classes, people would often say that they would love to bottle the feeling, or have me come and live with them so they could practice every day. Whereas those solutions proved unrealistic, being present is something you can practice anytime. Here are three ways you can be present now. Try each one as you read it.

  1. Notice your breath. Don’t change anything about it, just notice it. Start by feeling the air as it passes through your nose and throat, and then feeling the expansion of your chest, ribs and belly as you breathe in. Notice the softening of your torso as you breathe out. Don’t worry about making your breath do anything in particular. Just let it be as it is as you notice…Is your breath deep or shallow? Slow or quick? Moving freely or a little choppy? Which nostril is doing most of the breathing? Inhaling and exhaling, just notice the movement of your breath.
  2. Notice sensation in your body. Send your awareness down into your feet & toes. Scan into your ankles, lower legs, and knees. Tune in to your upper legs and your hips. Notice sensation there. Invite your attention into your lower back and low abdomen, into your middle back and upper abdomen, into your upper back and chest. Breathe into the space around your heart. Let your awareness move into your shoulders and flow down the length of your arms, through your upper arms and elbows, forearms and wrists, hands and fingers. Coming back up, notice sensation in your neck and throat. Let your mind’s eye climb up to the back of your head, the top of your head, and down over your face. Take a moment to notice your body as a whole. Notice how you feel overall.
  3. Relax your tongue. The tongue does these little micro-movements that echo the activity in our minds. When the mind is busy, the tongue is having a miniature dance party – a very subtle one. Take a moment right now to bring your attention to your tongue. Relax the base of your tongue and take 3 slow, deep breaths.

You may have the impression that if you meditate enough, your mind will be empty. It won’t wander anymore and you’ll just be totally relaxed all the time. Personally, I’ve never met somebody for whom this is true. I’m not calling it impossible (because I believe that everything is possible), but I just haven’t seen it yet. What I do know is that this practice of coming back to the moment, again and again, noticing your breath, noticing your body and inviting some softness in is magic. That’s what it’s like to be present. The website offers Levitra free trial packs and great discounts.

Try these techniques & let me know how it goes in the comments below. What are your favourite ways to practice being present?


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