Mindfulness Practice: Focusing on the Breathing

The breath is the only bodily process that can function both automatically and directed by the mind and plays a central role in mindfulness meditation.

The goal of this example practice is to train the participants to focus their attention on the breathing sensations and develop their ability to be mindful, better manage their attention and not get carried away by distractions.

Duration: 20-30’

Main points:

  • Become aware of the sensations and movement of the breath in the body (nostrils, throat, belly, etc.).
  • Draw your attention to the fact that you are breathing and notice the flow of air moving in and out through the nostrils.
  • Notice the rhythmic movement of the belly. Follow the rhythm of the breath as it is at the moment.
  • Observe the movement of air through the nostrils to the throat, the chest, follow the breath to the belly.
  • Simply ride the waves of the breath as it is at the present moment.

Step 1: 3-5 minutes

It is of major importance to provide the participants with the appropriate time to explore and become aware of their sensations as well as bring their focus to each part of the body that their breath affects.

Step 2: 2-3 minutes

Let the participants focus on the sensations of the breath.

During this time, the attention of the participants may wander, follow thinking patterns or worry about the future or the past.

After the 2-3 minutes remind the participants to keep re-focusing their attention on their breath.

Step 3: 3-5 minutes.

Going deeper: Peripheral Sensations. At this stage, the participants are invited to observe the sensations which may arise all over their body.

Take the time to integrate the experienced sensations like itchiness, numbness or even the experience of no sensations. Attention should also be paid to looking closely at the duration and the intensity of the sensations. At this point, attention should be focused on the sensation of how the whole body feels.

Step 3: 10-20’

Breathing should be the anchor of this practice. This stage is about taking the first steps in establishing breathing sensations as the major focus of their attention.

In this way, breathing could be set as an anchor, a safe place in case agitation or rigidity arises during the practice.

Step 4: 3-5’

Coming back to the present. As the practice comes to an end,  a smooth comeback to the “normal mode” is recommended. Participants can slowly go back to their preferred natural position. The facilitator should make sure that everybody feels well and at that point they may open a space for reflection and sharing.