Following Breath Like a Wave
Good Morning. When I first started mindfulness practice, I had a very hard time with anything quiet, still, or breath related. It seemed the minute I tried to be focused, my mind jumped everywhere. This morning’s practice was the one I found easiest to practice. It is still the breath practice I gravitate towards first when I want to instantly feel grounded and mindful, instead of distracted.
I call this following breath like a wave or riding the crest of a breath. The idea of this practice is to take a deep breath in through your nose until you feel your lungs filled to capacity. This is the crest or the “top of the breath.” When there is no more room in your lungs, it takes a split second for your body to shift from inhale to exhale. This moment is like your anchor in this practice. You can imaging riding the breath like a person surfing, or imagine your breath like a wave that creeps into shore and then pulls back out to sea receding slowly. After you notice the breath transition from in-breath to out-breath, slowly force all of the air out of your lungs. You can try, and it should not be difficult, for your exhale to be a little longer than your inhale. Some people like to count on the exhale. So that’s it…the goal is to stay consistently present to the breath moving in and out of your lungs.
Why is this helpful? Try it, and see what happens. When practiced regularly, I find that the top of the breath can be the moment of calm in a storm, allowing you to stay present, to think clearly, and to relax your brain and body. It can also be used in other ways, as a gratitude practice for instance, or as a practice designed to create physical relaxation.
So for today’s practice, set a mindfulness timer for however long you would like to practice and slowly breathe in as much as you are able, notice the crest of the breath, and then slowly exhale, extending your breath as long as you are able. Repeat until your practice is finished. If you get distracted, simply focus on the next breath in, paying attention to the crest.
Then, later today and throughout the week, try this breath again throughout your day (using just a single breath or two.) Use this practice whenever you feel like something is stressful, or you just want to remain present and connected. Try it before you eat and before you sleep, before you get out of bed, and before speaking with people. If I had only one practice on a desert island…this one would be it.
Have a peaceful day!