Updated: May 12
The breath is our anchor into the present moment.
Focusing on the breath may seem simple and easy, but it's a very powerful technique that can also be quite a challenge because our mind is so easily distracted.
When we consciously direct our mind and attention to our breathing we instantly feel ourselves come back into our body. We feel more aware, more present and connected - to ourselves and also to our surroundings. It can be an instant remedy for an overactive, chattering mind!
Most often than not, any strong emotion we may be feeling starts to dissolve and we naturally feel calmer and more at ease.
The more we practice this technique the more we see how our thoughts have a corresponding breathing pattern. You'll start to notice the situations where you hold your breath, when it becomes fast and shallow, when it's relaxed... You’ll start to notice what’s happening in your body and be able to connect with your calm space inside. You'll start to feel a deeper level of self awareness and empowerment as you become more of an observer of your body and mind.
How to focus on your breath:
Sit in a chair, on a cushion or lie down. If you have 10 - 15 mins spare to sit or lie with your eyes closed - great. But let’s face it, much of the time we don’t! The next best thing is to stop for a just few minutes, at regular intervals throughout the day, where ever we are. We can also bring our attention to the breath while doing any task. With regular practice, you'll start to do it naturally.
Direct your attention to the breath either:
At the area of the nostrils - the air will feel cool on the in-breath, warm on the out-breath
The belly - the rise and fall of the belly; you can put your hands on your belly to help
The whole body - you may get a sense of the breath entering and exiting your entire body.
Try focusing on each of these areas at different times and notice any differences and what feels most natural for you.
You can also say “I am breathing in… I am breathing out…” (in your mind) to help keep you focused.
* Keep your attention controlled but not too tight.
The mind is constantly wandering so it will try to steer you away after only a few breaths but just keep bringing your attention back to the breath every time your mind wanders. Be like the captain steering his ship and keeping it on course! Don't try to desperately change your breathing pattern - just allow it to be what it is, as an observer, and you'll probably notice your breathing naturally starts to change and slow down.
* With each out breath try to relax any areas of tension in the body.
You'll naturally become more aware of body sensations, tension and tightness. Let the body unravel with each out breath... as you release each breath sink deeper into yourself and let your body unravel and relax...
* Eyes can be closed or open
So you can literally bring your attention to the breath anytime, anywhere. Obviously it's a deeper experience if have a quiet space to do it with eyes closed. But you can definitely bring your awareness to your breath and relax tension in your body while sitting in a meeting at work!
Simply focusing on the breath for a few minutes regularly throughout the day, can help manage your stress levels, release tension and help you find that calm space inside.
If you want to delve deeper into mindfulness & meditation, you may love this intensive course below through Sounds True.
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