One of the many practices from Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is called “The Breathing Space.” Research has shown that the program of MBCT is effective for reducing relapses in recurrent depression. Many of these mindfulness tools and practices can also be helpful to anyone who simply wants to increase their experience of life in the present moment.
The Breathing Space is a three-part exercise, or “minimeditation” that can be done in as little as three minutes. It is designed to help bring the awareness of a more formal meditation practice into daily life. It is best to place any expectations aside, inviting curiosity about what you find when you practice The Breathing Space.
The first part is AWARENESS: Bringing the body into an upright and dignified posture, allowing the eyes to close if that is comfortable, and asking, “What is my experience right now? In thoughts, in feelings, and in body sensations?” Then simply acknowledging whatever is here, even if it is not pleasant or wanted.
The second part is GATHERING: Bringing attention to the breath. Just noticing and following each in breath and each out breath in its entirety. The breath is happening in the present moment. Focusing on each breath can invite a sense of fully inhabiting this very moment.
The third part is EXPANDING: Again, enlarging awareness around your breathing, including and breathing with a sense of the whole body, the posture, and even facial expression.
You might think about these three parts as making the shape of an hourglass, with an enlarged sense of awareness on either side of a more pointed focus on the breath in the middle. And you are welcome to practice The Breathing Space for longer than three minutes!