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Guided Practice: Just Stop and Breathe

Image by kmlmtz66 via iStockPhoto

Stopping to notice your breath and body can be a go-to tool to maintain a sense of calm in the workplace, especially when stress and demands are high.

Beverly Hays, Center collaborator, well-being facilitator and businesswoman, shares an informal guided practice to get in touch with your body and emotions.

Audio courtesy of Beverly Hays and UW Cultivating Well-Being: A Neuroscientific Approach

Bevery Hays Web

Guided Practice

Led by Beverly Hays

Welcome to this meditation, using breath to help calm and focus your mind. Before beginning, I invite you to take a moment to make sure that you’re seated comfortably, spine straight and strong but not rigid, body relaxed. Release any tension in your jaw, shoulders, neck or anywhere that you may have the habit of holding stress. And without judgement, let go of that holding.

Now, with hands relaxed and body at ease, breathing through your nose if possible, take a gentle but deep inhale. And as you release the exhale, allow your eyes to drift closed, or if you prefer, just lower and soften your gaze. Begin to turn your attention inward, taking a moment to notice your inner landscape, the state of your mind.

Are there emotions present? Are you sleepy or energized? Mind buzzing or calm? Without forming opinion or passing judgement, just notice this. And now, with a deep inhale, imagine that you are gathering in any mental residue from your day. Any problem or unfinished business that is tugging at your attention. And with a complete exhale, release it, and see it all drop away.

"As you move through your day, it may be helpful to remember that breath is always with you, and can be used, in the moment, as a method to calm and focus your mind."

Setting it aside for the next few minutes, as you set your intention to be present for this meditation. Now, take a moment to find your breath. Wherever it is easiest for you to access. Perhaps you feel it as a cool brush of air at your nostrils; the rise and fall of your chest; or maybe it is the sound of breath that you notice. Wherever you find breath, allow your attention to gently rest there. Letting breath come to you, without attempting to change or control it. Just notice as it falls into a natural rhythm.

Breathe in, gently. Your lungs fill, chest rises. And then with the exhale, notice complete release. Perhaps your breathing becomes slower and deeper, as you let go of everything but breath. Breathing in, breathing out. When thoughts arise, which they will, just notice them, without opinion or judgement. Let them pass away, dissolving like clouds passing through a deep blue sky.

Then, gently return your attention to breath. Calming, centering, constant. For now, there is only this moment, this breath. Attending to your breath brings you home. It is your touchstone, your ground wire. Connecting mind and body in this moment, perfect as it is.

And when you’re ready, take a deep, intentional inhale, and with your exhale, release your attention to the breath, and open your eyes. As you move through your day, it may be helpful to remember that breath is always with you, and can be used, in the moment, as a method to calm and focus your mind.

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