“Breathing in, I calm body and mind. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment I know this is the only moment.” – Being Peace, Tich Naht Hanh
We begin by stopping our familiar patterns of activity. We take the time to acknowledge there is a life force within us. Our life force emanates through our connection to awareness. Breath connects us inwardly, allowing us to regain consciousness of what has become elusive. Life is dependent on breath… the inhale and the exhale. Breathing requires no conscious effort or attention on our part. “Unconscious patterns” of attention and avoidance are self-protective, geared to enhancing survival odds. Gaining mind-space to seek novelty outside, we begin to be pulled ever farther away from consciousness. Yet, we retain an ability to over-ride the system… Welcome to the practice of conscious breathing.
From the moment of our first conscious breath, we begin making the unconscious, conscious.
This reversal of fortunes begins our journey back to Wholeness.
NOTICE – Start by sitting quietly in a space that is likely to be without interruption… Let go of any expectations or preferences for what the process may offer…Letting go is the first step necessary to permit openness to something new. We must first become unstuck to enable “shift to happen”… How does one begin to let go if they are unaware of what they are holding??
Take a moment to feel. Feel as though you are blanketed by a source of warmth and safety. Turn your mind’s eye inwards, and begin to notice your breath.
- What does it feel like to breathe in fully?
- Where do you notice the breath as it enters the body?
- Does it feel easy or encumbered?
- Repeat this series of steps for several more breaths.
- Now, gradually shift your attention from the in-breath to the out-breath.
- Notice that the air escapes without effort, being spontaneously released as though pulled by gravity.
- Does it flow smoothly or is somewhat ragged? Is it deep or shallow?
- Without trying to change anything, just become a witness and observe.
- When the breath is fully emptied, do you feel an immediate urge to gasp for the next inhale breath?
- Is there a feeling of safety rather than urgency between breaths?
- Repeat for several more breaths, and notice subtle things you may have missed.
- Can you feel the air traverse the back of your nose and throat, and then enters your lungs?
- Can you feel the expansion in your chest and rib cage and even belly?
- Notice the breath rhythm, is it spontaneous, smooth, or with effort?
- Do you notice any change, perhaps being lulled into a new rhythm that was unavailable to begin with?
- Are you able to witness the process through the eyes of an observer without judgment?
- Is there a tendency of mind to drift to old familiar thoughts?
- Can you detect any resistance through your physical body or mind chatter?
- How does resistance show up for you? Notice how it makes you feel in your body?
Know this simple Truth. Consciousness creates life. You must return to consciousness in order to regain the power to create the life your choose.
Reflecting on these questions repeatedly (even for 5 minutes/day) may assist your ability for inner observation. Self-reflection is the first step to move you towards the goal of living in full consciousness of all that you are.
Consciousness is the device that enables you to let go of the obstacles that stand in your way. Once you begin to shine the light on patterns of unconscious thought and conditioning, you illuminate the chains that bind you to old behaviours. In order to break free of the delusion, “Life is what it is…”, you must let go of all that makes you powerless and no longer seek escape of life’s pain through acts of unconsciousness.
The journey to Wholeness…
the reversal of your hardwiring…