Entering the Moment with the 3-Minute Breathing Space Meditation
– by Ben Gaibel, LCSW
The 3-Minute Breathing Space Meditation is a mini meditation that can be used to bring mindfulness into the busyness of daily life, and to steady ourselves in the midst of overwhelming situations. The 3-Minute Breathing Space was developed as a fast way to carefully adjust the way we are relating to our present moment experience, regardless of the challenging circumstance or emotion. This meditation can help you slow down and awaken with non-judgmental awareness to the present moment experience. It is important to note that the goal is not to get rid of feelings or thoughts, but rather to open to our moment to moment experience just as you are. It can be practiced listening to the following guided recording:
The Three Minute Breathing Space can be practiced in silence without a guided recording, as well. There are three steps, each step can be a minute long, or really any amount of time you choose:
STEP 1: BECOMING AWARE
Begin by either sitting or standing with an upright, dignified posture, one in which you can be still and alert. You can close your eyes if possible, or leave them open with a soft gaze in front of you. Become aware of whatever you are experiencing, right now.
- What thoughts are present in the mind right now? Observing thoughts like clouds passing in the sky.
- What feelings are present right now? Noticing any emotions without trying to change anything.
- What body sensations are present? Scanning the body to notice any sensations, pleasant or unpleasant.
STEP 2: GATHERING AWARENESS
Then, narrow the attention to focus on the sensation of breathing. Noticing the breath deep down in the belly, as the abdominal wall expands on each inhalation, and falls back on each exhalation. Whenever you notice the mind has wandered away from the sensation of breathing, gently bring the attention back to the breath, deep in your body. Allowing the breath to be an anchor to keep coming back to in the present moment.
STEP 3: EXPANDING AWARENESS
Expand your attention around your breathing so that, in addition to the sensations of the breath, you include a felt sense of the body as whole. Notice the contact the body is making with the chair or floor. Aware of your posture and facial expression. If you notice any sensations within the body associated with discomfort, tension or resistance, practice opening to what’s there. It might be helpful to say to yourself, “It’s okay…whatever it is, it’s already here…let me feel it.” As the meditation comes to a close, become aware of sounds and eventually to seeing what’s around you.
Consider bringing this open awareness with you as you gradually re-engage with the activities of your day.
Adapted from: Williams, Teasdale, Segal and Kabat-Zinn. The Mindful Way Through Depression: Freeing Yourself From Chronic Unhappiness, 2007.
The Three Minute Breathing Space and additional meditations by Ben Gaibel are available to stream or download for free at www.mindfultrain.org