Posts tagged ‘mindfulness’

Vase Breathing Meditation

My teacher says that Westerners are stuck in their heads too much already, and it is good to develop awareness of our bodies as well as our minds in meditation practice. One of the simple meditation techniques that helps us to reconnect with our bodies is Vase Breathing.

You begin this meditation by finding a comfortable seated position. Just begin noticing your breath. Don’t try to change it. Let it settle into it’s own natural rhythm. After you have settled for a moment, on the next inhalation breathe awareness into the very center of your head. Hold it there for a second or so. When you exhale, breathe awareness down into your body in a quick body scan. Repeat.

My wife is a preschool teacher. She uses “conscious discipline” with the four year olds in her classroom. An expression that she uses often to help an angry or upset child is “take a deep breath and get some oxygen in your brain.” It may be just a visualization technique, but it has real benefits immediately. Most of us go through our day with shallow, rapid breathing under stress. Taking time to breathe calmly and deeply has real effects on our mood and can improve hypoxic states.

When we go through our daily activities on “auto-pilot,” we may go hours unaware of our bodies until we have a feeling like aches and pains or hunger in our stomachs near lunch time. When is the last time you were aware of the third toe on your left foot unless you hit it on accident?

In breathing awareness down into our bodies we are just reconnecting with the rest of the body which supports our heads and busy thinking. We are a whole person and not just the thoughts that we think. Feel your heart beating, your lungs breathing, the blood flowing through your veins.

Vase breathing is a simple way that helps us reconnect with our bodies that can be done anywhere at anytime, even before picking up the phone or walking into a meeting. It can be done sitting up, lying down, or walking, and even a few breaths or a few minutes can help you to refocus, be centered, and present.

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Learning to Walk Again

Walking Meditation┬áis still pretty new to me and took some getting used to. I’m finally getting past the wobbly beginner’s stage. Yes, when you walk extremely slowly and mindfully, it’s hard to keep your balance at first, lol. In walking meditation you let your steps be the focus of your awareness rather than your breath when you walk.

A couple days ago while practicing I was struggling to get my awareness out of my head and into my feet. For a moment I thought, “I’ll never be able to walk across the room without being distracted. This is impossible!” Then it occurred to me that I only have to take this step mindfully, not the next twenty. Then I take the next step mindfully and the next…

We can’t take the next 20 breaths mindfully, but we can take this one mindfully. We don’t have next week or even today. All we ever have is now. We don’t even have the past. It’s gone, but we can choose to be here now. To be present. To be mindful. To be awake in this moment.