The 3 Step Breathing Space gives us a chance to step out of ‘autopilot’ and see what’s really going on. It allows a moment to pause when thoughts are threatening to spiral and provides room for a little reminder that every moment – good or bad- will pass.
The best thing about this is it can be done sitting down, standing up, jogging…wherever and whenever you like!
Imagine the shape of an hourglass; wide at the top, narrow in the middle and wide and the bottom. These 3 steps below follow that same pattern when focusing your awareness.
STEP 1. BECOME AWARE OF ‘WHAT’S GOING ON NOW’
Wide Awareness – 1 min
Close your eyes (if you’re in a place this is possible) and ask yourself these three questions:
- What am I thinking about right now?
For me this can look like “I need to remember to call my gran… and book that table for tonight…but what if I can’t leave work on time …” etc.
- How am I feeling right now?
I’m talking adjectives here – “I’m feeling…stressed, excited, calm, afraid, angry…
- What physical sensations do I feel in my body right now?
With different emotions we experience different sensations in our body. Notice these – where are they? how strong are they? Do they sting or throb? When under pressure and stressed I notice my stomach knot up and have a huge pulsing headache between my eyes. Equally, when excited/anxious I feel jittery with a racing heart beat.
In this step you are opening your awareness to yourself, where you are right now and how you’re feeling.
STEP 2. BECOME AWARE OF YOUR BREATH
Focused Awareness – 1 min
Direct your full attention towards your breath by focusing on the physical sensations caused by breathing. Focus on the movement of your stomach, expanding out on each breath in and contracting on each breath out. This is a way to bring your attention to the present moment.
If you feel your mind wandering it’s OK, just bring it back again to your breath and belly.
Note: Your mind is like your muscles- the more you exercise them at the gym the better you get at lifting heavier weights. Meditation is like a gym for the mind. The more you do it the stronger and better your mind becomes at focusing.
This step is helpful in grounding your mind, bringing it back to the present.
STEP 3. EXPAND YOUR AWARENESS
Wide Awareness – 1 min
Imagine your outline and with each breath picture the air filling up to the edges, into your fingertips and right down to your toes.
When you are ready to bring the practice to a close keep expanding your awareness outwards beyond the body, notice your surroundings, become aware of the temperature, smells and sounds of your environment before opening your eyes.
This part allows you to feel a part of the present – you have a place in the world, you are here, you are strong and ready to take on the rest of the day.
Let me know how you get on with the 3 Step Breathing Space and any anecdotes of any odd places you’ve found yourself practicing it in the comments below!