By Barry Boyce. http://www.mindful.org
Like any good spring cleaning, let’s get right down to the basics of mindfulness and meditation. One of the most foundational aspects of mindfulness is the ability to calm and focus the mind using your breath. By bringing your attention back to the breath each time you feel your mind wander during meditation, you can strengthen your brain’s natural ability to focus over time. Cultivate greater attention with these short meditations from our Editor-in-Chief Barry Boyce.
In mindfulness practice, you’ll often hear the term “natural awareness.” By natural awareness, we mean the awareness that just comes with being a human being. It’s free from judging and characterizing—it’s just noticing and sensing the world.
- Settle into your seat. Begin by taking a seat, or if necessary, standing. The important thing is to feel where your body is touching the seat and touching the ground.
- Scan the body. Sense where your bottom is touching the seat. Sit up straight or stand straight but not stiff. Make sure your feet are completely touching the ground, connecting you to the earth. Your eyes are open, so take in the surroundings of where you are. Lower your gaze slightly.
- Connect with the breath. Pay light attention to your breath as it goes out.
- Follow the out-breath. At the end of the out-breath, let there be a gap while the in-breath is happening. And in that gap you have natural awareness: it’s there already, you don’t have to create it. So, follow the breath out, and out, and out. As thoughts arise, treat them as you would anything else you encounter: Notice it, and use that noticing to bring you back to the out-breath and ride it out. Out, and out, and out.
Research On the Power of the Breath:
Recent studies revealed that our in-breath is like a remote control for our brains: by breathing in through our nose we are directly affecting the electrical signals linked to our memory and emotional brain centers. In this way, we can control and optimize brain function using our in-breath, to have faster, more accurate emotional discrimination and recognition, as well as improve our memory. Changing our breathing patterns and bringing conscious awareness to our breath will quickly bring our mind into a peaceful and still place. We can focus on our breath at any time, anywhere, so that it becomes a true friend.
Keywords; breathing, natural awareness