Breath is the link between mind and body.
The breath is a reminder that there is an exchange going on inside each of us in every moment of the day. Much more than the passage of oxygen and carbon dioxide, life itself is on its journey through you.
In each moment, the breath is a beautiful and effortless collaboration with the Universe.
This practice develops the capacity of self-compassion.
When connecting with the body, do so with a loving touch and an intention to bring calm, as if comforting a baby, or stroking a beloved pet.
Bringing this depth of compassionate awareness to self can be challenging, so gradually open to it in your own time. Do not worry if it feels awkward or uncomfortable at first. Stay with it.
By returning to the practice on subsequent days, the discomfort will ease and the practice will flow more naturally.
In this practice massage the belly and focus on what happens to the breath, the body and awareness. The exercise works just as well lying down, or seated, so experiment and see which works best. You may find that lying down and going through this practice before sleep allows you to relax and drift off with ease.
Begin by finding a comfortable posture and by bringing your attention to the breath. Take a few moments to let yourself arrive and allow the breath to draw you gently into internal awareness. Allow the gaze to soften, the eyes to close.
1) Bring the attention to the belly and notice how it is moving with each inhalation and exhalation. Take five breaths here.
2) Now place one hand on the skin so the belly button is beneath the centre of your palm.
3) Gently and slowly massage the belly by moving the palm in an increasing clockwise circle towards your hips and then in a decreasing clockwise circle back to the belly button. The hand remains in contact with the body throughout.
4) Once returned to the belly button, start the cycle again and repeat five times.
5) Now allow the hand to come to rest and take five breaths here.
6) How has your breathing responded? Is it slower, deeper, more peaceful?
7) On your next breath, without forcing it, pull the breath into the belly. Allow in as much air as feels comfortable. Take five breaths in this way: full inhale: full exhale.
8) Pause for a few moments by returning to a natural breathing rhythm.
9) Then, repeat the five belly breaths twice more, each time pausing afterwards to notice what has occurred.
10) Return to wakefulness in your own way.
Record your experience in your Mindfulness Journal noting the specific responses of the body and the breath.
If practising with others, take turns sharing your discoveries.
This practice is an extract from 100 Mindfulness Meditations: The Ultimate Collection of Inspiring Daily Practices by Neil Seligman published by Conscious House and available on Amazon priced £12.99.
10 Mindfulness Meditations is an album of audio meditations to accompany the book and is now available on iTunes priced £7.99
Neil Seligman is the Founder of The Conscious Professional, home of Corporate Mindfulness, Resilience and Wellbeing Solutions.
Also offering 1-1 Mindfulness Coaching, Conscious Life Coaching and Luxury Mindfulness Retreats at Champneys.