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Practice the Breathing Space Meditation for Mindfulness

The breathing space meditation is a short three-stage meditation that’s often taught in mindfulness courses all over the world. The meditation is supposed to be about three minutes long, but that’s just a guideline. You can practice for just a minute if you want, or for as long as ten minutes or more.

The length of time you choose depends on how much time you have available and how you’re feeling at the time. If you’re feeling very stressed, you may want to do it for longer.

For the breathing space meditation, sit upright on a chair with a dignified posture. Not stiff, but away from the back of the chair with your back relatively straight and your head balanced centrally on your neck and shoulders.

Your posture impacts on the quality of the experience because your body and mind are intimately connected. Sitting up straight signals to your mind that you’re doing something different and a more mindful mind-set is easier to create.

If you feel overwhelmed with emotion, try just sitting up straight, closing your eyes and being still. See if you can keep your eyes still too, behind your eyelids. Just doing this for a few minutes, together with some deep breathing, can help you to find some respite.

The breathing space meditation is made up of three stages: A for awareness, B for breath and C for consciously expanding.

  • Step A — Awareness inwards. In this stage, become aware of three aspects of yourself: your physical sensations, your emotions and your thoughts. This part only takes about a minute or two. Here’s how to do this in a little more detail:

    • Physical sensations. Get a sense of your physical bodily sensations. You may notice some parts of your body feeling tense or uncomfortable, and other parts warm or relaxed. Notice all sensations if you can to bring yourself into the present moment.

    • Emotions. Ask yourself, ‘How am I feeling at the moment?’ Notice your current emotional state. If you know what the emotion is, label it gently in your mind. If you’re not sure what the emotion is, that’s okay too — just feel it. In particular, notice where you feel your current emotion within your body.

    • Thoughts. Now turn your attention to your thoughts. Simply watch these thoughts without getting too drawn in, judgmental or caught up if you can. Watch the thoughts as if they aren’t yours, but just neutral experiences arising in awareness.

  • Step B — Breath. Now, bring your attention to your breathing. Feel the whole of your in- and out-breath for about one minute. If you can, feel your breathing down in your belly (your lower abdomen). You’re gathering your attention into your breath, using your breath as a stable place to rest your focus.

  • Step C— Consciously expanding. Open up your awareness from your breathing to your whole body. Step B was a focused attention. In this stage, your attention is more wide and spacious, feeling all the sensations in your complete body, with a sense of kindness and curiosity if you can. Allow space for all sensations to just be there, including the sensation of your breathing. Do this for about a minute too.

If you want to lengthen this meditation to ten minutes or so, just lengthen the amount of time you spend on each stage of the process.

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