Welcome Back to MBSR meditation series. I am your mindfulness teacher Nejra.
Today’s practice is an invitation to pause from the day. The invitation is to drop into the awareness of breath.
To come to a sitting, gathering ourselves in this moment in time.
Whenever our minds become scattered, we use the breath as the means to take hold of the mind again. And this is what we will be practicing now.
As the Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh says “Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts.”
So to begin, settling ourselves into a comfortable seating position, on a straight-backed chair, or on a mat, a rug on the floor with the bottom supported by cushions.
If sitting on a chair, allowing the feet to be flat on the floor, with uncrossed legs, sitting away from the back of the chair, so that the spine supports our intention to be awake and aware.
And taking the time to play around with the posture to find what feels right.Nurturing our needs.
Remembering that if at any time you need to move, change posture, or even stop the meditation, you have the choice to do so. It is your practice and your decision.
Tuning in to the vastness of sensations inside the body. Perhaps feeling an effortless expansion in the spine. A lightness. Becoming aware now of the sense of touch.
Noticing the surface where the body is in contact, maybe with the feet on the floor, or the sitting bones on the chair, or the hands in the lap.
Pay particular attention to awareness of sensations in the body as we encounter them.
Moving the awareness to the sense of hearing. Allowing all sounds, from inside and outside the room, the sound of my voice, the rhythmic sound of breathing.
As much as we can, practicing not identifying the sounds. Not giving in to the urge to label and judge. Just moving, floating from sound to sound. Allowing sounds to come and go.
Setting a conscious, loving decision to just be, as we are in this very moment.
Allowing thoughts that may be around to come and go, drifting on, just like clouds in the sky. Not getting attached, simply observing, with a curiosity.
Gathering our attention now, gently noticing the movement of the breath. Our lifelong, life-giving companion. Yet it can become so easy to forget about it. So in a way, taking these moments, to get reacquainted with the breath.
And perhaps asking ourselves “How am I breathing at this moment? What is the quality of my breath?”
Observing it as it is moving through its cycle of in-breath and out-breath.
There is no special state to achieve, so not forcing the breath, or controlling it, simply accepting what is here now.
Where do we feel the breath most vividly now? Perhaps at the nostrils. Perhaps the top of the lip, or tip of the nose.
Or we may notice the breath passing at the back of the throat, or the belly or in the chest. Or we may choose to follow the breath all the way down in the belly. Becoming aware of the rising of the in-breath, and falling away on the out breath. Tuning in to the rhythmic rise and fall.
With every breath in, a fresh beginning. With every breath out, a sense of letting go. As we place a calm, curious attention on our breathing. Noticing how breathing is like the ebb and flow of the ocean waves coming on the shore, and then receding back into the ocean.
If you choose to, placing the hands on the belly. Riding the waves of the breath, from moment to moment.
Breathing in self-compassion, breathing out and letting go.
We may notice that the mind has wandered onto thoughts, images, daydreams, fantasies.
With a gentle curiosity observing if we get caught up in them. And perhaps, exploring what would it feel like letting them go?
And practicing softening any judgments about having them. Just noticing thoughts, and letting them drift on by. And using the stretch of silence now, doing the work on our own.
Moving awareness to the level of sensation inside the body.
Noticing how sensations arise and dissolve in awareness.
There is nothing that needs to be fixed, and no particular state to be achieved.
Simply surrendering to the experience as it is, without requiring that it be any different.
Practicing letting go and gently coming back to the anchor of the breath, the sensations of the contact with the chair or the cushion. Feet on the floor. Grounding us.
What is our experience in this moment-to-moment awareness?
Inviting the conscious awareness back to the body. Back to the anchor of the breath or feet on the floor.
And when we are ready, expanding the attention to include the entire body from the soles of the feet to the top of the head.
Enveloping our entire being with loving attention. Gathering onto the sensations of the breath, how it bridges the gap between the whole body and the mind.
Reflecting back on this journey.
Asking ourselves how can we make space for more mindful breathing as we take a pause during the day?
Maybe offering a hand on the heart and congratulating ourselves for completing the meditation.
The breath rolling in and rolling out down into the ground.
Breathing in. And breathing out down into the earth. Being supported, nurtured, and held.
And when we are ready, gently turning our awareness to feel the earth beneath us.
The sense of sitting or lying here in this present moment.
Maybe offering an invitation for the body to stretch and move in any way that it wants.
The Awareness of Breath meditation is now complete.
In the next session, we will be exploring turning towards all that is within us, softening our resistance & cultivating equanimity.
See you there.
”As the Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh says "Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts."