We all breathe of course, but we seldom consciously use the ways in which breathing can help us focus. Breathing may seem simple, but it is not. How do you breathe? Where do you feel your breath? How does it feel? When it’s cold outside, your breath may feel sharp. When you have a stuffy nose, it may feel as if your breath got stuck. Have you ever wondered what the little hairs in your nose are good for? What other questions do you have about your breath and breathing? Mindful breathing turns you into a scientist or researcher exploring your own body.

How does breathing help us focus? Imagine yourself looking very closely at an ant on a windowsill. If you look at it long and hard, you see many details that you would not see if you just glanced at it for a second or two. By paying attention to your breath, you actually inhale more oxygen, which is good for your heart and blood.

Exercise One

  • stand upright
    your spine reaches upwards
    shoulders relaxed
  • both feet planted on the ground
  • breathe in through your nose
  • while inhaling
    your stomach fills with fresh air
  • exhale

Exercise Two Forward Fold

  • plant both feet on the ground
  • bend your upper body over the table
  • both hands touch the table
  • raise your upper body
    and while doing so
    breathe in deeply
  • lean forward towards the table
  • breathe out

Exercise Three

  • stand on the ground with both feet
  • feel, sense your body
  • every cell starts to soften and melt
  • while bending forward
    breathe out
  • the palms of your hand
    slightly touch the floor
  • return to upright position
    while breathing in

Exercise Three

  • helps you to focus your attention inward
  • lengthens your whole spine
  • stretches your hamstrings
  • gives you energy

Sit back in your chair for a moment and take a couple of deep breaths
… in and out …
… in and out …
… in and out …
… in and out …
Remember how you felt when you thought your parents were angry with you and then found out that they weren’t. What happened to your breath then?

  • Do you sense your nostrils while you are breathing in and out?
  • Do you feel the changes in your breath? short, long, deep, shallow, heavy, stopping
  • Do you sense the breath in your belly?
  • Put your hand on your stomach once in a while.

In breathing there are two kinds of grace:
To draw air into, then out of, your space.
The one presses down, the other refreshes;
Thus marvelously life’s web intermeshes.
You thank God whenever he hems you in,
And thank him whenever he frees you again.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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© April 2016
A Project for Mindfulness by Osterloh & GLOBART