Creating a Breathing Space wherever you are

To remain sane, create a breathing space. It’s a mental and physical space where we can quieten our minds and reflect in stillness. Whilst it is true that we are social beings, it is also true that all of us need our own private space. Let’s first acknowledge and accept this important fact and respect the need for each of us to have our own private space. How do we do that you may ask when physical dwelling spaces are crammed and we are sharing bedrooms, toilets and living areas with many of our family members?

How do we create a Breathing Space wherever we are?

Let’s identify and designate an area at home for 15 minutes of breathing space at any one time for each member of the family. It could be one of the bedrooms at home. This space will then be used by members of the family during the alloted time for quiet contemplation. You may want to roster 15 min to 30 minutes of private time in this space for each member of the family where he or she will not be disturbed. Hang a “Do not Disturb” sign on the door so that all family members get their share of breathing space.

Do the Five-Minute Breathing Space Mindfulness Exercise (STOP)

Once you organize a “breathing space” in your home, let me recommend a short mindfulness exercise: The Five-Minute Breathing space mindfulness exercise will actually benefit you. To STOP and catch your breath from time to time will help you to remain calm for the rest of the “Stay Home”. Trust me. This practice provides a way to step out of the auto pilot mode and into the present moment. It will help quieten the inner chatter. This quiet space will reconnect you with your natural resilience and wisdom by simply tuning in to what is happening right now, without expectation of any particular result. If you remember nothing else, just remember the word “STOP”.

Let’s Begin… 

Trusting the practice and trusting me, sit in any comfortable position, gently close your eyes and lower your gaze in preparation to explore what is within you.

Five-Minute Breathing Space

S

Stop and Take Stock.

Checking in to head/heart/body, bring yourself into the present moment by deliberately asking:

What are some physical sensations I am noticing now? Do I notice a lightness or heaviness…a pounding or throbbing… a tightness or is it loose and relaxed…a stiffness or numbness or ache…JUST NOTICE…in which parts of the body am I feeling these sensations?

What are you saying to yourself now? What images are coming to mind now? Are you enjoying or not enjoying  this experience right now? Are you neutral, upset, excited, sad, mad?

Acknowledge and register your experience, even if it is uncomfortable.

T

Take a Breath. Direct your awareness to breathing.

Gently direct full attention to your breathing, to each inbreath and each outbreath. NOTICE the passage of your breath as you inhale and exhale. Pay attention to your breath.

Breathe in and breathe out deeply but slowly with intentionality…watch what it is you feel in your body; observe the gentle expansion of your chest or abdomen as you inhale and the gentle contraction as you exhale. Repeat this 6 times or until you feel calm.

Whenever you find thoughts entering your mind, acknowledge your thoughts and let them go with loving kindness. Gently return the mind to the present moment by focusing on the breath, telling yourself that it is natural for your mind to stray.

Your breath can function as an anchor to bring you into the present and help you tune into a state of awareness and stillness.

O

Open and Observe. Expanding awareness outward.

Now expand the field of your awareness around and beyond your breathing by focusing on the body as a whole….facial expression…..your posture, and, then further outward to what is happening around you: sights, sounds, smells, etc. As best you can, bring this expanded awareness to the next moments.

P

Proceed/New Possibilities. Continuing without expectation.

Now move your awareness to the people around you both near and far. Family, friends and even people in countries severely affected by the pandemic. Sensing how things are with them. Many people are facing uncertainty and all kinds of challenges. Be curious about what they may be going through…what are they feeling right now…respond naturally. What images, thoughts and emotions are coming up for you? Take a pause…and sit with it for a bit more.

You may be surprised by what happens next after having created this pause.

Adapted from MBSR Handbook

Reflect

What emotional reactions did you notice during this short mindfulness practice?

Did you feel impatience/wanting to stop/neutral/enjoyment/wanting to continue or a release of joy, sadness, fear, grief, pride, surprise, anger, frustration, anticipation, shame…?

There are no right or wrong answers…just acknowledge.This is an invitation to connect with yourself and connect with others at a deeper level…befriend the stillness and allow yourself to be home in your own body. Just STOP

S top and take stock

T ake a breath

O pen and observe

P roceed with new possibilities

Stay Home, Stay Safe and MOVE HEARTWARDS…

Shalini Damodaran
Shalini Damodaran is passionate about writing and coaching others to write. She was a teacher educator, specialised in the teaching of writing at the English Language Institute of Singapore.
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Shalini Damodaran
Shalini Damodaran is passionate about writing and coaching others to write. She was a teacher educator, specialised in the teaching of writing at the English Language Institute of Singapore.
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