A BREATHING SPACE

Have you heard about the Breathing Space in mindfulness? It is a three-step meditation that you can do in less than a minute, or you can take your time exploring every stage, making it last 10 minutes or longer. I find it very useful, and often practice it a couple of times a day. I always use it in my yoga self-practice, and also at the start of most of my yoga classes, in order for all to properly “arrive” on the mat.

The breathing space is about taking a few moments to check-in with yourself, to arrive where you are, instead of being in the past or the future with your thoughts and feelings, so in a sense really arriving into the present moment, the only moment there ever is.

Imagine you are going to make a phone call to someone you are upset with, or you are irritated about something and need to deal with it, and your mind is rather agitated than calm. Or imagine you are arriving home in the evening, still feeling angry about something that happened at work, and although you decided that it is not going to affect the rest of your day, you somehow just explode as you enter your front door. This is where a quick Breathing Space meditation comes in handy, helping you to get into a state of calmness.

The Breathing Space meditation allows you to centre yourself, ground yourself, check in, tune in, whatever you want to call it, in order for you to reach the point of calmness and stillness that is always present for you, within you, simply by connecting with your breath. I find that one of the great things about the Breathing Space is that you are not suppressing or covering over what you are thinking or feeling, so you stay completely honest to yourself.

Here is how it works, whether you are standing, sitting or lying down for a brief period of time:

The first step of the meditation is to acknowledge the thought(s), emotion(s) and body sensation(s) that are present for you in that moment, each of these separately. At this point, no need to go further with the thought that is present, no need to judge yourself for how you are feeling, and no need to change the sensation in your body if you notice a sensation at that time.

The second step is to gather your attention to your breath. You are now narrowing your attention to the breath moving in and out of your body. At this point, it is really easy, and normal (!), for the mind to slip into a chain of thoughts. However, as soon as you notice that your mind has gone somewhere else, just acknowledging where it went, and then bringing your focus back to your breath coming in, going out.

The third and final step involves expanding your attention to your whole body standing/sitting/lying down, breathing. Here, in addition to being aware of your breath, also now noticing slight movements your body is making as you are breathing in and out, such as the lifting and falling of your shoulders, chest or belly. Staying here for some time, and then, when you are ready, ending the meditation.

Coming out of the Breathing Space, most people find themselves in a different place than where they were just before – they find themselves in THE NOW. With a calmer mind, and in a wiser place to act from. Such a powerful meditation that you can do wherever you are!

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Annette Wiik

My name is Annette. I am a Yoga Academy Certified Teacher (BWY-Accredited School) and started practising Hatha Yoga over 20 years ago. Holding a certificate from Bangor University to teach mindfulness-based courses, I incorporate my knowledge of mindfulness meditation in all my yoga classes. I have two grown-up children and live in Wimbledon.