By Kris Kile
In my view, the number one practice we can employ to support us in being in the present moment is “attending to breath.”
I say this with a bit of equivocation, because there are so many things we can consider that are immensely useful in supporting being present. So, please understand that I am not attempting to be overly simplistic here and I am not dismissing an entire array of disciplines and practices that can be helpful.
But, based on my personal experience and in working with others in this area and observing what actually produces healthy movement in the moment (from an unresourceful state of being to a resourceful state of being) I have never seen anything work quite as consistently, effectively and almost immediately as attending to breath.
So, what do I mean by attending to breath? Different folks have slightly different definitions for this. But, for me, this is what it means….
Attending to breath is using your ability to focus on your breathing as a mechanism to enable you to relax your habit of constantly following your thoughts—both conscious and subconscious. It enables you to clear your mind, and not focus on thoughts, but rather focus on your breathing.
This action involves you intentionally following your breath in your mind’s eye as you inhale through your nose and breathe deeply, down into your belly, and then exhale out through your mouth. All the while, you are shifting your focus from all the ‘noise’ of your internal thought life, and replacing it with a solitary focus on following your breath as you consistently breath deeply.
I have found that closing my eyes while doing this is helpful, if that is possible. Of course, if I am driving and decide to do this, I keep my eyes open.
When your attention wanders from your breathing back to your thought life, you simply notice—non-judgmentally–and return your attention to your breathing. It is not a matter of IF it is going to wander, simply a matter of WHEN. The fact that your attention will wander from focusing on your breathing IS NEVER A PROBLEM. The juice in this is NOTICING IT, and bringing it back, however many times necessary.
There are so many potential applications to this that I can only touch on a few today. Thousands of books have been written on the topic. We have our own Tame The Brain materials that take a deeper dive on this.
This is one of the most varied, fun, interesting, and often challenging transformational disciplines to employ. Yet, for many of us, it takes years to simply develop it as a habit. That’s okay. It can be part of the work of your entire lifetime, if you choose.
So, here are my top five benefits of attending to breathing in any chosen moment:
- It can be done at any time you choose. It doesn’t matter what attitude you have, what you are feeling, whether you feel like it or not. You can do it if you choose.
- It always helps. If you do it, it will help. It may not solve everything, but it will always help.
- It always supports you keeping your thinking brain online and preventing your emotional brain from hijacking your entire brain.
- It automatically helps quiet emotional upset. It can help prevent being triggered into emotional flooding, hostility and defensiveness.
- It is soothing to your heart, soul and mind. It is like taking a mini-vacation in the moment away from your conscious and unconscious fear, anger and distress.
Here are five applications for attending to breath in any chosen moment.
- When you notice you are getting triggered into a flight/fight/freeze response.
- When you are feeling overwhelmed in the moment.
- When you notice you are being judgmental of yourself, others or the situation in the moment.
- When you recognize that hauntings or fears from your past or concerns or anxieties about the future are dominating what you see possible in the present.
- When you need to maintain calmness and presence in a difficult situation or with a difficult person.
Building this as a discipline you practice in concentrated time periods for a specific duration of time each day (i.e. meditation or practicing stillness) is a very beneficial practice. It can be thoroughly transformative.
But, for now, I am simply asking you to consider the benefits of attending to breath at any point in time as a mechanism to support you in being present in that given moment.
This is a fundamental discipline in being present.
The next question to consider is: once you are ‘being in the present moment,’ then what?
Be on the lookout to practice this today. Then post your observations and what happened on Facebook. We can have some fun with this.