Instructions for "3 Step Breathing Space":
Adopt an erect and dignified posture, and close your eyes.
Step 1 - Become aware of your inner experience in this moment.
What thoughts are in your mind? As best you can, see them as mental events, don't get involved with them. Label them, 'thinking'.
What feelings are present? Acknowledge whatever is present, and if it's unpleasant, try to turn toward it, and not away.
What sensations are in the body? Quickly scan the body to see what you notice, are there any sensations of tightness or contraction?
Step 2 - Focus your attention on the breath at the abdomen.
As best you can, focus on the sensations in the abdomen as it rises and falls with the breath. Remain here for at least three full breaths. If the mind wanders, gently and kindly bring it back to the breath.
Step 3 - Expand the attention to the body as a whole.
Check in with your posture, notice your facial expression. If you notice any sensations of discomfort or tension, invite the next in-breath to soften and relax the area. Expand the attention again to include the body in the room and any sensations of touch or pressure on your chair or the floor.
Gradually begin to open your attention to sounds in the room, the feeling of the air around you, and when you're ready, open the eyes and continue with your day.
The 3 - Step breathing space is a fundamental part of any good mindfulness program. It trains us to step out of the auto pilot mode we spend so much of our time in, and take charge of our attention again. When we are on auto pilot, we are prone to the rumination that leads to depression, and the over-thinking that leads to anxiety.
Set a reminder on your phone or smart watch to pause for a 3 Step Breathing Space at least 3 times a day, and if you feel a strong emotion, see if you can remember to use the practice.
"The breathing space sets us up to encounter life in a different frame of mind, coming fully home to the present, rather than just giving ourselves a break from thinking." - Teasdale, Williams, & Segal
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