Can Mindfulness Transform Feelings?

practicing mindfulness

When you mention mindfulness, many people immediately imagine Buddhist monks, sitting in the lotus position meditating.  If you are unaware of how mindfulness can be incorporated into many aspects of life, it can seem impractical in the midst of the pressures, demands and hassles that most people encounter every day.

However, practicing mindfulness– defined by Jon Kabat-Zinn as the process of paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally– can have a significant impact on our functioning.  It can improve your ability to focus, as well as your ability to manage intense or painful emotions. Continue reading “Can Mindfulness Transform Feelings?” »

Mindful Breathing to Reduce Stress

One of the primary reasons to practice mindfulness is to build up our ability to concentrate. Breathing is a natural and effective tool in preventing scattered or fractured thinking. Breathing is a way to connect your body to your thoughts and, when your mind becomes scattered is a way to refocus.

The following is a breathing exercise. Focus on bringing our awareness to our breathing. Learning to focus on your breath can help to anchor you in the present moment. Focusing in breathing also generally has a calming effect.

You will begin the exercise by just tuning in to the feeling of your breath coming in and out of your body. Just focus on breathing and knowing your breathing. Today’s exercise will be an exercise on counting your breath.
1. get settled in a comfortable position
2. focus attention on breath
3. inhale, filling lungs
4. exhale-count on each exhale from one to ten. For example: Inhale, Exhale, “one,” Inhale, exhale, “two” inhale, exhale “three” up to ten.
5. When you reach 10 start over at 1
6. if you lose count at any time, start over at 1

The first few times you do breathing exercises can feel awkward. Your mind may wander from your breathing or you may have judgments about your ability to stay focused. It is normal to feel that way. If you do feel awkward, just notice that feeling, and let it pass. If you get fidgety, just notice the urge to fidget and let it pass. If you lose count or find you are distracted by sounds, gently bring your mind back to your breath and begin counting at one. Trust in this moment and allow it to unfold without analyzing, judging or doubting it.

Thich Nhat Hahn. The Miracle of Mindfulness: A Manual on Meditation.

Mindfulness Exercise– Breathing in and out

This simplest of breathing exercises appeals to many as an introduction to mindful breathing. Its simplicity can also allow you to do it at anytime or any place.  This technique is especially useful for when your mind is racing or you are feeling anxious and unable to focus.  It is helpful with difficulty sleeping and regaining focus when stressed at work, driving, or in a conflict with someone.

As Thich Nhat Hanh said,

“While we practice conscious breathing, our thinking will slow down, and we can give ourselves a real rest. Most of the time, we think too much, and mindful breathing helps us to be calm, relaxed and peaceful. It helps us stop thinking so much and stop being possessed by sorrows of the past and worries about the future. It enables us to be in touch with life, which is wonderful in the present moment.” (1991, p.11 ).

1)      “In…Out Breathing” – This is the simplest introduction to mindful breathing: As you breathe in, say “in” inside your mind, as you breathe out, say “out.”  If you are distracted, gently return your mind to saying in and out with your breath.  Become fully aware of your breath as it flows into your body and out again.