mindful mOMent

Looking for a way to deepen your yoga practice? Consider spending just as much time honing your mindfulness practice as you do on your asana practice. Keep an eye out for this new recurring TS blog column, “mindful mOMent” for tips, mantras and exercises to help focus your mind.

Counting Your Breath: This week we’re going to focus on using your breath to slow your mind. Sitting still and “not thinking” is not the goal of meditation. The idea is to slow the mind and let your thoughts come and go without reacting to them. By using your breath to bring your attention away from fleeting thoughts, you can more effectively manage your thoughts.

Again, start in a comfortable seated position. Find a kitchen timer or use your cell phone to set an alarm. This way, you don’t have to be continually checking the time to see if your ten minutes (or whatever time you choose) is up.

Try these two breath counting techniques to see if one resonates more:

1. Take a few deep inhales and exhales to center yourself and tell your body that you’re ready to be present. When you feel semi-removed from the chaos of your day, it’s time to start the breath counting exercise. Each inhale/exhale combination is one “count.”

For example:

inhale, exhale, one.

inhale, exhale, two.

inhale, exhale, three.

See how high your number can get. It’s not uncommon to lose track of your number around seven. Others can get up much, much higher. See where you’re at and after a few tries, you’ll find your ability to stay focused on the counting improves.

2. Again, take a few moments to center yourself. When you’re ready to begin the breathing exercise, just keep repeating “one” in your head after each inhale/exhale sequence. Your goal in this technique is not to see how high your number can get but instead keeps you counting without the pressure of reaching a certain number. After you’ve used the first technique a few times, maybe you realize that your mind is good at multitasking and you’re able to keep counting while other thoughts come and go. If that’s the case and you find yourself not losing track and starting over, you’ll begin to recognize the number you “need to reach” before your meditation time is up. This second technique takes that concern out of the equation while still using the same focus on the breath.

Good luck with your breathing! Let me know if either of these tips help you and your journey to mindfulness.

Namaste.

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