(Photo Credit: Camdiluv)
Sometimes, life can get so busy that we function on automatic pilot just to get through our day. But wouldn’t it be great if we had a reset or a “clear” button, like the kind you find on calculators, just to wipe the slate clean and view our world with fresh eyes? After all, if you don’t reset your calculator prior to running calculations, the results will be off.
Here’s a quick exercise called the 3-Minute Breathing Space, adapted from psychologists Segal, Williams & Teasdale, to help you quickly reset:
Step 1: Find a comfortable seating position. Sit up straight, but not overly rigid, in a chair or on the floor. Close your eyes. Now, ask yourself:
- What is my experience at this moment?
- What are my thoughts?
- My feelings?
- My physical sensations?
Just acknowledge and notice your experience, without attempting to change it in any way, even if it is unpleasant or unwanted.
Step 2: Gently direct your attention to your breath, perhaps noticing the sensation of the air as it moves across your nostrils for each inhale and exhale. Use your breath as an anchor. You will likely find your mind wandering, and this is normal, just continue returning your attention to the experience of your breath in this moment.
Step 3: After doing this for a minute or two, expand your awareness beyond your breathing: examine your sense of your body as a whole, your posture, your facial expression. Perhaps visualize yourself seated in the chair in the room. When you are ready, you can open your eyes and carry on about your day.
The task is not to see how long you can stay focused on your breath, but rather to repeatedly return your attention to the breath if the mind wanders. And trust me, it will wander.
Doing this exercise once daily, or even just now and then when you really need it, will help you to have more clarity and approach your day with greater awareness.
Remember, you can’t find the right answer if you haven’t first reset your calculators!
Source: Segal, Z. V, Williams, J. M.G, & Teasdale, J. D. (2002). Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for depression: A new approach to preventing relapse. The Guilford Press.