The Three B’s of Mindfulness: Breath, Body and Brain

You may have heard a lot about mindfulness recently in the news and popular magazines. If you’re like a lot of people, you may find yourself becoming confused about what mindfulness even is.

Currently newsstands throughout America are featuring a special edition of Time Magazine devoted to Mindfulness. It includes everything from ways to bring greater intent into your life to recipes for healthy smoothies. On my bookcase I have a little book Moments of Mindfulness in which each page offers an inspiring picture from nature with a short tidbit of positive psychology.

Faced with resources like these, a person might be forgiven for thinking that mindfulness is a blanket term covering anything that makes a person feel good.

It gets even more confusing. In a 2014 article for The Atlantic, Tomas Rocha wrote how mindfulness is being “promoted as a means to help Americans work mindfully, eat mindfully, parent mindfully, teach mindfully, take standardized tests mindfully, spend money mindfully, and go to war mindfully.” Rocha might also have mentioned that mindfulness is also being used in the hospitals for pain-management and in the public discourse as the new Rosetta Stone for achieving world peace.

Is “mindfulness” coming to mean so much that it actually is ceasing to mean anything at all?

To make matters even more confusing, mindfulness is often combined with tenants of Buddhist metaphysics, including the notion that the self is an illusion or the idea that the goal of human life is to become one with the universe.

Against this backdrop, some may want to question whether the concept of mindfulness is even coherent, let alone useful and beneficial.

Over the past couple years I’ve been wrestling with these types of questions while combing through the popular and academic literature on mindfulness. In the process of my studies I’ve become convinced that mindfulness is indeed a useful concept when properly defined and understood.

My own interest in mindfulness goes back to when I read Nicholas Carr’s book The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains. Carr described the neurological toll that comes with constant connectivity. However, while The Shallows diagnosed the growing epidemic of inattentiveness and distractibility arising in the wake of our online habits, the book didn’t give a lot of practical solutions. After reading Carr’s book I began asking, How can office workers and students remain focused on present-moment tasks when so much of their time is spent plugged into an ecosystem of distraction technologies?

As I was researching this question, I encountered the work of Google-engineer Chade-Meng Tan. I heard that Meng was giving seminars on something called “mindfulness” to help office workers increase focus and productivity. Intrigued, I decided to order Meng’s book Search Inside Yourself. When I began reading the book, it wasn’t at all what I expected a Google engineer to be writing about. Most of the book was about breathing, emotional intelligence and mindfulness meditation.

In Search Inside Yourself, Meng demystifies mindfulness by explaining that it is simply a set of special techniques for paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally. This definition goes back to mindfulness guru Jon Kabat-Zinn whose classic definition of mindfulness become a benchmark of all further work. “My working definition of mindfulness”, Kabat-Zinn has repeatedly said, “is that it’s the awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally.”

But paying attention to what? Well, anything. You can use mindfulness practices to improve the quality of your work, play, eating, exercise or meditation. But mindfulness research shows that there are certain things we could really benefit from paying attention to. In particular, scientific research on mindfulness teaches us that we really benefit when we start paying attention to (1) our brains (2) our bodies (3) our breathing. I call these The Three B’s of Mindfulness.

Let’s take each four of these in turn and consider why paying attention to these phenomena is important and how mindfulness techniques can help us better to pay attention. We’ll start with the brain.

Why it’s Important Mindfully To Pay Attention to Your Brain

Neuroscientists have discovered that the human brain has been endowed with an incredibly amazing gift. That gift is called the prefrontal cortex, located just above your forehead.

The prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain that enables you to observe your own thinking – to pay attention to your brain. That is something that only humans can do. Animals can pay attention, but without the prefrontal cortex an animal is unable to pay attention to its attention. Animals can watch the world, but they are unable to watch their own thoughts.

Put another way, the prefrontal cortex gives human beings the unique ability to engage in “meta-cognition”: to observe what is happening in our own brains, to think about thinking, to pay attention to attention itself.

In a minute I’ll explain what this has to do with mindfulness. But first, it’s important to emphasize that thinking about thinking isn’t just something for philosophers, psychologists and intellectuals. It’s important for all of us. The best explanation I’ve found for why it’s important to watch our thoughts was offered by the psychologist Rick Hanson in a 2016 article he published in the Huffington Post. I’ll share a portion of Dr. Hanson’s insights and then unpack it a bit:

“Moment to moment, the flows of thoughts and feelings, sensations and desires, and conscious and unconscious processes sculpt your nervous system like water gradually carving furrows and eventually gullies on a hillside. Your brain is continually changing its structure. The only question is: Is it for better or worse?

In particular, because of what’s called “experience-dependent neuroplasticity,” whatever you hold in attention has a special power to change your brain. Attention is like a combination spotlight and vacuum cleaner: it illuminates what it rests upon and then sucks it into your brain – and your self.

Therefore, controlling your attention – becoming more able to place it where you want it and keep it there, and more able to pull it away from what’s bothersome or pointless (such as looping again and again through anxious preoccupations, mental grumbling, or self-criticism) – is the foundation of changing your brain, and thus your life, for the better. As the great psychologist, William James, wrote over a century ago: “The education of attention would be the education par excellence.”

Dr. Hanson’s point is that by attending to the content of our focus, by observing what we are choosing to fill our minds with, we can exercise censorship over our attention in much the same way that a responsible person exercises censorship over what she puts in her mouth.

When we do this—when we learn to control where our attention is focused—it’s the prefrontal cortex that gets involved in the action. You could think about the prefrontal cortex as a guard in the brain’s guard house, tasked with controlling what enters. We use this part of the brain to watch what is happening and exercise second-by-second censorship over our thoughts. In the process, we control how the physical structure of our flexible brains is sculpted.

I could share a lot of scientific evidence for this, but most of us intuitively know that our self is shaped by where we choose to focus our attention. Just look around and observe the effect of someone who spends his or her life being attentive to negativity, triviality or thinking errors. Compare such a person to someone who spends his or her life being attentive to what is good, true and beautiful. The effects should speak for themselves and reinforce the notion that attention is like a combination spotlight and vacuum cleaner: what we choose to pay attention to is sucked into the self and, over time, changes who we are.

You are what you think.

Sometimes when we begin to understand the incredible power of thought, we become frustrated with our undisciplined brains. We realize that our brain is like non-stop background radio that continually rehearses a narrative of complaints, fears, lusts and self-centered reflections, images or ruminations. Worst of all, we often can’t get our brains to turn off. Faced with this problem, it’s common to enter a frustrating war of attrition with our undisciplined brains, combating each toxic thought or image one at a time, and getting progressively self-critical in the process.

I know from experience how wearying this can be. Over twenty-five years ago I realized that my brain was my own worst enemy; consequently, for nearly a quarter of a century I embarked on a wearying battle against toxic thoughts and images. Every time I found myself entertaining an unhealthy thought, I immediately engaged in mental hand-to-hand combat against the unwanted thought. However, because my brain was the source of the problem in the first place, this approach was like trying to fight fire with fire and only made things worse.

Mindfulness offers us a solution to this dilemma. Remember that mindfulness is about paying attention to present-moment phenomena non-judgmentally. To mindfully pay attention to your brain is to observe the thoughts racing through your head in the present moment but not to judge them. To mindfully pay attention to your brain is to watch your toxic thoughts, but not to argue with them. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, this posture of non-judgmental present-moment watchfulness is one of the most effective ways to exercise mental censorship, for “A thought cannot exist for long under the light of direct, objective observation. If we do not align our will with it, it naturally disappears.” (From Hieromonk Damascene’s observations about mental watchfulness.)

One of the most helpful illustration of why this works again come from Meng’s book Search Inside Yourself. The Google-engineer-turned-mindfulness-guru asks us to imagine our house is suddenly overrun by monsters. If your house happens to get overrun by monsters in the near future, you have three choices. Either you can feed the monsters, in which case they will stick around. Or you can fight the monsters, in which case you may get clobbered and defeated with the result that the monsters become stronger. Or you can do your best to simply ignore the monsters. If you choose to ignore the monsters, maybe they will go away or maybe they won’t, but even if they stick around, you will have learned to treat them with the contempt they deserve and they will have lost their hold over you.

It’s the same way with unwanted thoughts. If we fight unwanted thoughts head-on, then we are focusing on the very thing we want to rid ourselves of, leading to a phenomenon that psychologists call the “Ironic process theory” or “the white bear problem.” I described this problem in an article I wrote last year for Salvo:

Researchers have found that trying to directly suppress unwanted thoughts is about as successful as telling someone not to imagine a polar bear. The very act of trying not to imagine a white bear inevitably recalls the white bear to mind; similarly, the very act of struggling not to have an anxious or lustful thought is sure to bring the thought to mind. What tends to work much better is to treat unwanted thoughts with the contempt they deserve, and that means that we don’t feed them and we don’t fight them; instead we focus on what is important to us—our values, our goals, our core beliefs—and do our best to simply ignore the toxic thoughts.

Try this technique next time unwanted thoughts arise in your brain. Observe the unwanted thoughts as something outside yourself. Maybe they will go away or maybe they won’t, but at least you will refuse to dignify the unwanted thoughts through entertaining or fighting them. (Remember, monsters grow stronger when they have someone feeding or fighting them.) If throughout the course of your day you happen to realize that you’ve been involuntarily feeding unwanted thoughts , don’t beat yourself up over the fact. Remember that the beauty of mindfulness is that it’s about watching your brain non-judgmentally. Once you realize you’ve been feeding the cognitive monsters, just gently bring yourself back to a state of mindfulness.

There are a number of different mindfulness exercises you can do to strengthen your ability to achieve present-moment non-judgmental watchfulness of your brain. One of these is to spend three minutes doing nothing but watching your brain. You can try it now if you want. Sit somewhere comfortable and set a timer for three minutes. During these three minutes watch thoughts float into your brain and watch them float out. If you find it helpful, you can imagine yourself as a soldier standing guard to make sure you don’t judge these thoughts.

Remember that judging unwanted thoughts can take the form of making a judgment in the thought’s favor whereby you align your will with it. That would be like picking up a monster and feeding it. If you do that, the monster will only become stronger until it has the strength to completely clobber you. Or judging an unwanted thought could take the form of making a judgment against the thought by fighting with it. That would be like grabbing a monster and trying to wrestle it to the ground. If you do that, then at best you will be exhausted and weary, and at worst the monster may end up over-powering you. Mindfulness is about simply watching the monsters but refusing to be drawn down to their level. When you find yourself inadvertently being drawn into the world of the monsters, don’t judge yourself for that either. Just gently recall your brain to a state of mindfulness.

If you can practice this type of brain-centered mindfulness for three-minutes a day, be prepared for two really cool things to start happening.

The first cool thing is that the more you practice watching instead of judging your thoughts, the more skillful you’ll become in creating distance between stimulus and reaction, which is the foundation of self-mastery.

The second really cool thing is that by engaging in this mindfulness exercise at least once a day, the more skilled you’ll become at resisting unwanted thoughts at other times of the day. Think of this three-minute exercise like sending your brain to the gym. Just as someone who goes to the gym every morning is more fit during the rest of the day, so a person who practices controlling the brain during brief mental-mindfulness-sessions is more capable of resisting toxic thinking throughout the rest of the day. As you become better at this, you’ll find yourself increasingly able to resist the pull of thoughts that are ungrateful, anxious, negative, shallow and self-centered. Conversely, you’ll be more able to consciously cultivate the type of thoughts you want: thoughts that are peaceful, loving, grateful, intellectual, beautiful, compassionate and calm.

By learning to pay attention to your brain in the present and non-judgmentally, you will be taking your first step towards mindfulness. But mindfulness is also about paying attention to your body. That is the topic of the next section.

Why It’s Improtant Mindfully To Pay Attention to Your Body

At nineteen, Courtney seems like a normal well-adjusted girl of the twenty-first century. Her favorite activities are hiking, swimming and playing point guard for the women’s basketball team of her college. In the evening, Courtney likes to watch movies with her boyfriend. However, there is one thing Courtney does that few her friends understand.

At set times twice a day (once in the mid-morning and once in the mid-evening), Courtney takes off her shoes and socks and begins wiggling her toes.

Whether she’s riding in someone’s car, sitting in class, doing her homework in the college library, or even sitting in a meeting, Courtney makes sure to wiggle her bare toes. When she wiggles her toes, Courtney focuses all her attention on them, enjoying every movement, sometimes even closing her eyes to savor the experience. On the days when she has enough time, Courtney will move her attention from her toes to each other part of her body while breathing deeply.

For the record, Courtney is not obsessive compulsive. She also doesn’t suffer from Tourette Syndrome.

To understand this seemingly bizarre toe-wiggling ritual, we need backtrack to events when Courtney was eighteen and broke her right foot on the basketball court. For six weeks she was in a cast, and for another month after the cast was removed the doctor ordered Courtney not to put any weight on the right leg.

That was a year and a half ago, but Courtney still remembers the unsurpassed happiness of being able to wiggle her toes after the cast was removed.

The joy—oh the sheer joy of being able to wiggle my toes again, of being able to feel the air in the spaces between each toe and of being able to feel each toe rub against the other toes,” she said. “I didn’t realize how much I enjoyed my toes until then. I’m never going to take my toes for granted again.

Mindfully focusing on the movement of her toes has given Courtney a new appreciation for her entire body. Before her accident, Courtney had been highly critical of her body. Even though friends considered her attractive, she continually focused on all the things she wished she could change about her body: she thought her feet were too stubby, her nose was too pointy and her breasts too small. After recovering from her accident, Courtney stopped judging her body and started enjoying it, beginning with her toes.

You may think that Courtney is a bit eccentric, but she actually is not. Courtney has realized something that is available to all of us but which most of us completely miss: the sheer delight of having a physical body. It’s easy to get so wrapped up with everything we’d like to change about our body that we lose sight of the joy that comes from being physical.

Each one of us have the opportunity to experience the same joy Courtney experiences twice a day when she wiggles her toes. Best of all, we have the opportunity to do this without having a tragic accident. All you have to do is pay attention to your body, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally. In other words, mindfulness.

Most of us do not have any problem paying attention to our body when something is wrong—that is, when we are uncomfortable or in pain. Through mindfulness we can also give attention to our body when things are right. In Search Inside Yourself, Meng shares how it is possible to enjoy—to really, really enjoy—the experience of simply not being in pain:

“When you are not in pain, be aware that you are not in pain. This is a very powerful practice on multiple levels. On one level, it increases happiness. When we are suffering from pain, we always tell ourselves, ‘I’ll be so happy if I am free from this pain,’ but when we are free from that pain, we forget to enjoy freedom from pain. This practice of constantly noticing the lack of distress encourages us to enjoy the sweetness of that freedom. Thereby helping us to be happier.

On another level, I find that even when we are experiencing pain, the pain is not constant, especially emotional pain. The pain waxes and wanes, and there are times (perhaps short intervals of minutes or seconds), when a space opens up and we are free from pain. The practice of noticing the lack of distress helps us abide in that small space when it opens up. This space gives us temporary relief and is the basis from which we launch our recovery and find the strength to face our problems.”

The idea that it is possible to enjoy not being in pain almost seems too good to be true. This is because we usually take our body for granted. Through mindfulness, however, it is possible to cultivate high levels of gratitude and joy simply by practicing non-judgmental present-moment awareness of our body and its sensations.

If you find body-focused mindfulness difficult, here is a mindfulness exercise anyone can practice.

Sit comfortably and let your hands rest on your knees, palm upwards. Now let your attention focus on your hands. Next gently bring your attention to specific fingers, focusing on each finger for about thirty seconds: first the little finger on your left hand, then the little finger on your right hand, then the thumb of your left hand, then the thumb of your right hand.

Finally let this same sense of concentrated focus rest on your breath. Don’t think; just observe. Observe the air as it enters your nostrils, fills your lungs and is exhaled.

Doing this activity for ten minutes will greatly improve your ability to be mindfully aware of your body.

But why is it important to grow in mindful awareness of the body? There are at least five practical benefits of learning to practice non-judgmental present-moment awareness of the body.

First, by practicing deliberate self-conscious gratitude for little things we usually take for granted, like the various parts of our body, we increase the type of positive emotions that help with resiliency in the face of suffering. Body-focused mindfulness offers us the opportunity to draw incredible thankfulness simply from having functional toes, feet, legs, hands and arm. A person who has learned to be thankful for little things (like our toes or our heart-beat) is able to more easily call to mind an attitude of thankfulness no matter what else might be going wrong in his or her life. This type of body-focused gratitude begins with non-judgmental present-moment awareness of the body – in other words, mindfulness.

Secondly, non-judgmental present-moment awareness of the body brings with it the benefit of helping us to be more compassionate to others. When we judge and condemn our own bodies, the inner-negativity makes us more likely to be judgmental to those around us, perhaps without even realizing it. By contrast, when we learn to have compassion on ourselves, beginning with our own bodies, we enlarge our capacity to being accepting towards others. That’s where the “non-judgmental” part of the mindfulness definition is so important.

Thirdly, practicing non-judgmental present-moment awareness of the body and its sensations enables us to exercise self-care as well as to be more attentive to the needs of others.

Fourthly, learning to be attentive to our body enables us to achieve self-mastery over our emotions.

These last two point requires further explanation.

Body-Focused Mindfulness and Emotional Regulation

In our age of constant noise and stimulation, it is easy to be inattention to the needs of our body. Sometimes we fail to read our body’s warning signs and so we simply react to the results of being hungry, having a headache, experiencing stress, having bad posture, being tired, or having an unhealthy heart-rate. Even when these conditions have reached the point of becoming symptomatic, we often merely treat the symptoms instead of listening to what our body is trying to tell us. For example, we deal with being tired by drinking coffee instead of making sure we begin getting enough sleep; we deal with back pain by taking pain medication instead of making long-term corrections to our posture; we deal with stress by escaping into an even more busy life instead of taking time to breathe deeply or practice yoga.

By achieving present-moment awareness of the body, we can start listening to the messages our physical self is trying to send us. By being mindful of our body, we can learn to preserve enough distance between ourselves and incoming stimuli in order to attend to our physical needs and make wise choices as a result. Let’s take a few examples of how this looks in practice.

Suppose a young man’s attention is so absorbed playing computer games that he doesn’t realize how hungry his body has become and that he actually needs to stop for something to eat. Or maybe he doesn’t realize that it’s 2:30 AM and that his body is sending him signals that he needs to go to bed. In such cases, because the young man’s attention has been scattered by the latest mental or emotional stimuli, he is unable to perceive what is happening in his body.

Or suppose a girl is so absorbed in a stressful conversation that she doesn’t realize she’s getting a stress-induced headache and needs to pause to take some deep breaths, or maybe that she needs to postpone the conversation for another time after her heart rate is at a healthier level.

These are all fairly basic examples of how it’s helpful to pay attention to your body. Remember that self-mastery involves being able to objectively watch ourselves and thus to create a distance between stimulus and reaction. The cash-value of this of mindfulness goes beyond physical self-care and helps us better to regulate what is happening in our emotional life. This is because subtle changes in mood, in addition to emotions like anxiety, fear, anger, defensiveness, pride and stress, are often experienced first in the body and only afterwards experienced by the conscious mind.

The physical effect of emotions was demonstrated by a group of scientists at the University of Iowa. The scientists set up a gambling exercise in which participants were asked to pick cards from a red deck or a blue deck. In the course of the game, the participants all eventually realize that over time it’s only possible to win by taking cards from the blue deck. But most people didn’t realize that until turning over 80 cards. However, the significant part of the experiment occurred before each participants consciously realized that the red deck was disadvantaged. About 40 cards into the game, their palms began to sweat when reaching for a card from the red deck—a clear sign of nervousness. Their body knew there was something wrong with the red deck 40 cards before their conscious mind was aware of it.

This is only one example of the way emotions effect the body before we are conscious of the emotions, but further examples might be multiplied endlessly. The cash-value of recognizing that our feelings correlate with bodily conditions is that we can move onto the next step, which is learning to “tune-in” to the messages our body may be trying to send us. In so doing, we can pick up valuable clues about our emotional life and make appropriate adjustments to our behavior as a result.

The best explanation on the relation between emotion and physiology again comes from Google’s resident mindfulness-guru Meng:

Every emotion has a correlate in the body. Laura Delizonna, a researcher turned happiness strategist, very nicely defines emotion as “a basic physiological state characterized by identifiable autonomic or bodily changes.” Every emotional experience is not just a psychological experience; it is also a physiological experience.

We can usually experience emotions more vividly in the body than in the mind. Therefore, when we are trying to perceive an emotion, we usually get more bang for the buck if we bring our attention to the body rather than the mind.

More importantly, bringing the attention to the body enables a high-resolution pereption of emotions. High-resolution perception means your perception becomes so refined across both time and space that you can watch an emotion the moment it is arising, you can perceive its subtle changes as it waxes and wanes, and you can watch it the moment it ceases. This ability is important because the better we can perceive our emotions, the better we can manage them. When we are able to perceive emotions arising and changing in slow motion, we can become so skillful at managing them…

The type of “high-resolution perception” of emotions that Meng is talking about is the key to exercising emotional self-care. Observing what we are feeling enables us to pause, take a deep breath and do an “emotional audit.” We can ask ourselves questions such as:

  • “What am I feeling right now?”
  • “Why am I feeling this emotion?”
  • “Is this emotion being unnecessarily amplified by unhealthy cognitions?”

From there we can move on to ask more specific questions about any issues behind our emotional states:

  • Have I taken something personally that I ought to let go?
  • Does my present unhappiness stem from comparing myself to others?
  • Am I unconsciously maximizing what is wrong and minimizing what is good?
  • Is my stress being amplified from under-estimating the inner resources I have for coping?
  • Am I harboring unresolved hurt against this person?
  • Have I been forgetting to practice gratitude for ordinary things?
  • Am I unconsciously engaged in mind-reading, whereby I am reacting to what I imagine other people are thinking about me?

In asking questions like this, the goal is to bring self-awareness to our feelings instead of merely being carried away by them. Without this type of perceptive self-knowledge (which is part of what is often referred to as “emotional intelligence”), there can be no true self-mastery.

Because of the relationship between our feelings and our body, a good place to start in developing this type of emotional intelligence is simply to start observing your body, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.

If you find this difficult, make it really simple: just wiggle your toes.


Why it’s Important Mindfully To Pay Attention to Your Breathing

Remember that mindfulness is about learning to pay attention, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally. We have talked about the importance of having this mindful awareness towards our brain and our body. I would like to finish with a discussion of why it is important also to have mindful awareness of breathing. This will build on the two articles we published earlier this month ‘EPPP Anxiety Part 1: Anxiety and Your Brain‘ and ‘EPPP Anxiety Part 2: The Power of Positive Breathing.’

To understand the importance of mindful breathing, it may be helpful briefly to reflect on what was involved in our ancestors’ survival. In order to survive, our ancestors needed to give acute attention to what was wrong in their environment, to what was threatening, lacking or problematic. For example, if there were signs of a snake down the path, our survival would depend on being able to analyze the signs. If we had a bad experience with a neighboring tribe in a certain area, our brains would need to remember the place of danger. The ability to remember what was wrong, to analyze our environment for potential problems, to scan our experience for things that are abnormal or lacking – these thought processes all became highly developed in our humanoid ancestors.

Now fast-forward to the present era. Unlike our hunter-gatherer ancestors, we no longer live in a world hedged about by constant danger. However, even when our lives are safe, our brain easily defaults to its primordial condition of continually scanning our experience for problems. Many people find that even when there is nothing wrong, their brain still easily defaults to analyzing, ruminating, worrying, planning, remembering, analyzing, evaluating and making judgments. This creates stress, which depletes the immune system and uses up valuable resources and energy.

While it is important to be able to analyze our experience for actual and potential problems, it is also important to be able to switch out of this thinking state of mind. That is where mindful breathing comes in. Mindful breathing offers us the opportunity to put ourselves in “sensing mode” instead of “thinking mode.”

There is nothing complicated about mindful breathing. All you have to do is turn your attention away from its constant thinking and let all your senses rest on your breath. As you do this, consciously breathe in a little deeper than normal, hold your breath slightly longer than normal, and slowly let your breath out. Slow breathing, combined with mindfully observing your breath—the air as it enters your nostrils, fills your lungs and is slowly exhaled—tells the brain that it is okay to stop thinking and start sensing. It proclaims to your body that you are safe.

The goal is to be able to use your breath, at will, to switch from a thinking state to a sensing state. In the mindfulness community, we often talk about this as learning “to be all there.” To be “all there” is to use our senses to observe life as it exists in the present—our body, our environment, our breathing—without having to analyze, ruminate, worry or make judgments.

Remember, mindfulness is the awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally. There is no better place to start with this type of mindful attention than that which is close to our heart and fundamental to life: breathing.

Further Reading


Photos and graphics by Sarah Belschner (Scriptings Simply):

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