If you read yesterday’s post then you may have had time to consider the question I left you with: What are the stresses in my life at the moment and how do I react? You may have identified your triggers and reactions. Often, people are unaware that they are stressed until the stress becomes so overwhelming that they struggle to cope with it.
When we can notice that we are stressed, we have the chance to give ourselves a moment in which to ground ourselves, bringing a sense of calm which can help to reduce our stress and regain our sense of control.
THE THREE STEP BREATHING SPACE is a short meditation which can be done anywhere: at your desk, or while waiting for a stressful doctor’s appointment, or even hiding in the bathroom if you are having a particularly bad day!
STEP 1 – AWARENESS
Adopt an erect and dignified posture, sitting or standing. Close your eyes if you can. Become aware of your experience in the present moment:
What thoughts are going through your mind? Observe these thoughts with kindness, acknowledging them as mental events. If it helps, name these thoughts.
Notice any feelings there may be. Gently turn towards these feelings however unpleasant or difficult they may be and acknowledge them. You may keep your distance if you wish, or go to the edges of these feelings, the main aim is to acknowledge their presence.
What bodily sensations are you experiencing? Do a quick scan of the body, noting any tensions or pain.
STEP 2 – BREATHING
Now turn your attention to the physical sensations of your breathing. Observe the breath in your abdomen, the gentle expansion and contraction as the breath moves in and out. Follow this breath, in and out, using it as an anchor to the present moment. Allow your breath its natural rhythm as much as possible.
STEP 3 – CONSCIOUSLY EXPANDING AWARENESS
Now expand your awareness to include the whole body. Become aware of your posture, perhaps you are sitting tense, your face, perhaps you are frowning. If you experience any discomfort or tension explore that gently by sending the breath there. Breathe out from that sensation, softening it. Sit with this awareness of yourself as a whole, then continue your day with this expanded mindful awareness.
Have a go next time you are stressed and see how you feel. Tomorrow we’ll look at dealing with difficult emotions. See you there!