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Week 3 - Mindful Centering Breath Practice

Let’s begin with a mindful centering practice. All of us came from different places and had to do different things before coming here, so let’s fully arrive to this space with each other.

First, notice your body posture at this moment and begin to make adjustments to sit in an upright position that would allow you to pay attention fully in the next few moments.

You can let go of anything you may be holding. Bring your feet flat on the floor, back straight but not stiff, shoulders relaxed, facial muscles relaxed, and hands resting comfortably on your thighs or in your lap. Let your eyes gently close.

(pause)

Often it happens that our body is here but our mind is still somewhere else. The intention of mindful centering is to bring our mind back to the body and to the present moment.

To do that, let’s take a few deep breaths as an invitation to bring the mind and body together. Take a deep breath through your nose, and let the breath come out through your mouth. Make the exhalation slow and long. Let’s do this two or three more times. Watch the body release as you exhalation slow and long.

(pause)

Now let your breath move at its own pace and just pay attention to the flow of the breath in and out. Just notice the sensations of breathing.

(short pause)

As you do this you may notice that your mind starts to wander. You may start thinking about other things or noticing other sensations . If this happens, it’s not a problem. It's very natural. Just notice what took your attention away without evaluating it as good as bad; then drop that object and gently redirect your attention back to the breathing.

(short pause)

Now, let’s explore what is happening here and now in the room, our body, and mind.

First, with your eyes closed, notice the presence of the people around you.

Notice the air temperature on your skin.

Notice the amount of light you can see through your eyelids.

Notice any sounds in the room.

Notice your clothes touching your skin.

(short pause)

Now, notice your body as a whole.

The contact of the chair and your body.

The contact of the ground and your feet.

The movement of your body with each breath.

(short pause)

Now, notice how is your body feeling right now. What sensations can you notice?

Scan your body to see if you can notice any places of tension.

No need to judge your experience in any way, we’re simply noticing.

Often our shoulders can get stiff and we may hold tension in our neck.

Or, the muscles in our face may get tense or we may be clenching our jaws.  

(short pause)

Now, scan your body to notice any parts that are relaxed.

Maybe your arms feel relaxed, maybe legs or feet.  

There are no rights or wrongs, we’re simply learning more about ourselves, our bodies, and sensations. And when your mind wanders, you notice what distracted your, and then gently bring ourselves back.

(pause)

Now, bring your attention to your mind and see what thoughts are there.

What thoughts do you notice? Instead of following the thoughts, just notice what thoughts are arising in your mind right now. Can you take a step back and just watch them for a moment as if you were watching a movie on a screen? When you do so, can you have some sense of how you feel about that thought?

Are your thoughts related to something from the past? Or something about the future? Maybe a judgement about this experience? Just notice.

There is no need to evaluate the thoughts as good or bad or try to get rid of them. We’re just paying attention.

(short pause)

When we are being aware of our thoughts in this way, what it means to be distracted is just that we are getting caught in the thoughts. Our minds are like monkeys or puppies, running around all day long chasing after this and that. When your mind wanders in this way, at some point you will notice that you are caught in a chain of thoughts. When that happens, without any judgment about being distracted, simply notice whatever it is you are paying attention to now. And then gently let go. Return now to come back to the noticing thoughts in your mind..

(pause)

Now, let’s return to your breath and anchor your attention there again.

For a few moment, let yourself just pay attention to the rising and falling of each breath.

Let your mind rest in the natural cycle of your breath.

There is no need to do anything right now.

Just resting in the experience of your breath.

(pause)

Now, slowly begin to bring some movement into your fingers and toes, bring some movement into the whole body, stretching gently, and then allow the eyes to open when you are ready. Take your time.

 

Week 3 - Mindful Centering Breath Practice
Collection The Art and Science of Human Flourishing - Fall 2017
Visibility Public - accessible to all site users (default)