Looking back at when I use journaling for mental clarity, I have often used this 3-minute breathing space as the first step when challenging feelings suddenly arise. It allows me to see what is happening through direct knowing and provides a gap from where I can choose the next steps required.  I needed to practice it consciously at first to get the hang of it, and now I manage to use it as and when needed (even if only for a minute or two).

When I need to use it, I sit or stand upright and close my eyes (if possible). Then I bring my awareness to my inner experience asking myself:

  • What is my experience right now?
  • What thoughts are going through my mind right now? I acknowledge them as mental events and am conscious of putting them into precise words.
  • What feelings are here right now?   Uncomfortable though the feelings might be, I acknowledge their presence as best I can.
  • What body sensations are here right now?  I scan my body to pick up any sensations of tension.

Then comes the breath bit:

I re-direct my attention to focus on the physical sensations of my breath. Sensing my breath from my belly, expanding the belly as the breath comes in, and letting the belly fall back as the breath goes out. I keep following the breath in and out, using my breathing to anchor myself in the present for several cycles.

Then I expand the field of my awareness around my breathing so that, as well as the sensations of my breath; it includes a sense of my body as a whole and my posture. When I become aware of any discomfort or resistance, I breathe into them on each in-breath and breathe out from them on each out-breathe.  Gradually I can soften and open.  As best I can, I bring this expanded awareness into the difficult moments of the day.