The Three-Minute Breathing Space
In stress or anticipating stress, or simply at regular intervals through the day, this practice, freely adapted from Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (Segal et al., 2002), can be of use.
Minute 1: Awareness. Taking a pause. If you care to, closing your eyes. Bringing your attention to your body: noticing bodily sensations (e.g., heaviness, lightness, temperature, breath rate, heart rate, etc.); then attending to thoughts: is your mind calm? Or are thoughts racing? What’s the quality of thought? (e.g., dense, light, fleeting, sticky, etc.); and attending to the mood states: how do you feel in the moment? (e.g., peaceful, anxious, joyful, sad, etc.) Acknowledge and register your experience, even if it is unwanted.
Minute 2: Gathering. Then, gently bring your attention to your breathing, to each in-breath and to each out-breath as they follow, one after the other. When your attention is drawn away, noticing that, and gently bringing it back to the breath.
Minute 3: Expanding. Expanding the field of your awareness beyond the breath, back to the sensations in the body, then to thoughts, and then to mood state. Checking in to how it is with you now.