Conversation 4: Mindfulness & Being Present

Exercise 1: Awareness

Exercise 1Awareness – a recording of Julian McNally (7:18 min) 

(Exercise 1: Awareness by RMIT Counselling and Psychological Services, Six ACT* Conversations, RMIT University is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

The first exercise is called awareness of breathing. This exercise is quite brief and is a good introduction to mindfulness practise. Like most of these exercises, it is best done in a quiet private place, with eyes closed, and in a comfortable seated position.

Exercise 1: Awareness of Breathing

As your eyes are closed, your awareness may shift from the outside world, the world in the room you’re in, the building you’re in, to your own body.

And no doubt you become more aware of sounds.

And so as you sit there and hear my voice, I’d like you to focus your attention on your breathing.

First of all, slowly take a deep slow breath in… and out…

And again, take a deep slow breath in… and out…

And on your next breath, pay attention to the feeling of the air coming into your body, through your nostrils or your mouth.

Just feel the sensation of air coming in and going out of your body as it leaves you.

And notice, if you can, the movement of your belly/ribs/back/upper chest perhaps? What parts of your body move as you breathe?

Perhaps you may notice your arms or forearms moving against your body or against your legs or the chair – so just sit there continuing to breathe in and out and observing this process, the sensations and the feelings of just breathing.

You may feel an urge or some curiosity about breathing faster or slower, or longer or harder. Just let that urge, or that pull towards that curiosity, come and go – and bring your attention back to the physical process and sensations of breathing.

And notice that you can continue to allow the breathing to happen, as you feel and are aware of the physical sensations that go along with that process.

And if your mind starts to wander – wants to take an interest in something outside this experience – just gently bring your attention back to many or all of those physical sensations:

  • Air through your nostrils, to the top of the roof of your mouth from the back of your throat, down into your chest;
  • The rise and fall of your stomach;
  • Expanding and collapsing of the ribs;
  • And any other movements that happen in your body as you breathe in and breathe out.

And if your mind has anything to say about this process – wants to draw you away to thoughts or feelings – just acknowledge your mind for being there, and put your attention back on the process of breathing.

And notice that there is nothing that you need to do about this breathing, it simply happens and you simply sit there noticing it happening.

And so, if you wish, you can continue to sit there, observing your breath – and whenever you’re ready, you can stop this exercise and have a break.



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