Life can move pretty fast sometimes. Especially when we try to move on from the past and prepare for the future at the same time -- this often results in forgetting to live in the present moment. On top of that, we can get so caught up in everything going on around us, that we forget to take inventory of what’s going on inside of us. This leads to stress, of course, which leads to tons of negative effects on your mind and body. It’s important in these times of chaos and stress to take a few moments to be fully present and breathe in order to refresh your mind. Let’s relax, lower our stress, and get re-centered for the rest of the day through some mindfulness! Turn your phone on silent for this exercise, and clear your space of clutter. Throughout this exercise, do your best to maintain your focus on the sensation of breathing. If you catch your mind wandering, simply guide yourself back to your breath. Don’t get down on yourself for having some wandering thoughts, just watch where your mind goes and then remind yourself to focus on how it feels to breathe. The key to this exercise is not emptying your mind, but rather to practice bringing your attention back to your breath. So, try your best not to think about what happened earlier today, or what is going to happen later today; focus on what is happening where you are right now.
First, find a comfortable seat and close your eyes. Take a minute to assess how you’re feeling, both in your body, and in your mind. Do you have any aches or itches, or a song stuck in your head? What does your clothes or your chair feel like on your skin? Scan your whole body and mind for sensations, and simply become aware of them. Take note of how you’re feeling, rather than judging yourself for feeling how you feel. That’s right, just identify your thoughts and feelings without attaching any kind of judgement to it. Recognize that these feelings are temporary.
Notice how you are breathing naturally, and how it feels to breathe in that way. Feel your chest rise and fall gently with each breath. Unclench your jaw and relax your shoulders. How does the air feel in your nose, in your throat, and in your chest? Take a few more natural breaths, and savor this moment of stillness.
Next, begin to slow your breath down. Breathe deeply, inhaling through your nose, then exhaling it all out through your mouth. Make each inhale and each exhale last about five seconds. Fill your lungs completely with each breath, as if you couldn’t possibly fit more air in, then sip one last bit of air in. Slowly let it all go, emptying your lungs all the way. Just breathe, deeply like this, for a few moments. Focus your attention on how it feels to breathe like this. Feel the cool air rush past your throat as you breathe in.
Now, with every inhalation, slowly raise your arms up overhead. Reach for the stars, as you feel the sides of your body stretching. Take note of what it feels like for your ribs to expand and fill up. As you exhale fully, lower your arms to your side, and imagine pulling your belly-button into your spine. Inhale, and bring your arms up overhead. Let it all go with a great big sigh and lower your arms. Shift your focus back to your breathing if your mind has wandered.
Continue breathing deeply and moving your arms for a few moments, while you watch how your body and mind react to this exercise. Do you feel any different from how you felt when you started? Scan over your body and mind again, recognizing any sensations that still linger.
Thank you for taking this time to be mindful with me. I hope you’re feeling more relaxed, focused, and present now. Have a great rest of your day!