Attending the Breathe with Light Imagery
Why is mindfulness so important? Why spend precious time "spacing out" instead of getting something accomplished? Well, it depends on whether or not you want to control your thoughts, or if you are content to be controlled by them. You see, spiders spin webs; it's just what spiders do. Humans make thoughts. Its just what we do. You will never be able to stop yourself from thinking and feeling, but you can change the way in which you think and handle your emotions. Just like your body needs training and periods of rest, your mind must also be trained to be a useful tool instead of a hindrance. Mindfulness is a way to divorce your body from your thoughts for a short time, and to merely be an observer. As you take in your environment and how you are placed within it, you learn to reign in your thoughts and emotions without judgement to yourself. Mindfulness is just as important as physical exercise if you want to nurture your mental health. Here is a simple mindfulness exercise to get you started.
Expanded Attention to Breath with Light Imagery (5-10 minutes)
- Start tis exercise by placing your feet squarely on the ground and sitting up in your chair so that your back is straight but not rigid.
- Make sure that your head feels square to your shoulders and place your arms in a comfortable position at your sides. This posture helps us to stay alert and focused.
- Begin by first noticing or paying attention to the fact that your body is actively sensing the environment. Notice that you can feel your feet on the ground.
- Now, gently close your eyes or find a place on the floor to fix your gaze should you choose to keep your eyes open.
- Place your attention at the tip of your nose and begin to notice the sensation of air moving in and out of your nostrils... pay attention to your breathing.
- You may notice that the air coming in through your nostrils is slightly cooler than the air moving out of your nostrils... Allow yourself to just gently follow your breathing, paying attention to the gentle, easy air as it passes in and out...
- You may also notice the rise and fall of your chest. Be aware of the expansion and contraction - be completely aware of your breathing.
- If you become distracted by your thoughts, just take a moment to notice where your thoughts took you, where your mind went, and then, without judgement, let go and return your attention to your breathing. If you get distracted a hundred times, bring yourself back to your breath a hundred times.
- Now just take a few moments to focus completely on breathing.
- Turn your full attention to the rise and fall of your chest. Notice how your chest rises and falls, expands and contracts....
- Notice that you are bringing life-giving energy, oxygen, to your lungs, which then transfers to your body... imagine that you are breathing in this energy in the form off light...
- Choose a soft color like light blue or soft pink, and imagine that with each breath you are bringing in this colored oxygen to fill your lungs.
- Picture your lungs expanding and contracting and being filled with this soft light, and just as oxygen spreads, imagine this light spreading to your heart.... bringing energy to your heart...
- Now imagine the light growing and spreading further throughout the body, just like oxygen would.
- Picture the light traveling to your abdomen...and growing... so it spreads to your legs and arms..
- Imagine this light filling your body and flowing up into your head.. picture the light spreading out to your fingertips and to the tips of your toes.
- And now imagine that the light can pass outside of your skin. Imagine it spreading until it completely circles you... as if you were enclosed in a ball of light energy.
- Allow yourself to just rest in this energy... breathing in and out... feeding your body with the breath.
- Now, releasing your attention from the light image, gently focus on jus the rise and fall of your breathing... and then on your body and how it feels to sit in the chair.
- Notice the placement of your feet, your arms, and your head. Picture what the room will look like when you open your eyes. When you are ready, rejoin the room by opening your eyes.