Take a three-minute breathing space

Take a three-minute breathing space

Keep calm at Christmas – the kind of simple mantra that can arouse feelings of anger, negativity, frustration. At such times it almost seems as if Christmas was created just to make you feel worse.
01 December 2017

Finding time to spend on yourself is difficult at any time of the year: and doubly or triply so at Christmas, when your time, organizational and diplomatic skills are heavily in use, and even the stresses of everyday life are magnified by expectation and the assumption that Christmas should be a happy season.

This is precisely the season to take time for yourself, and indulge in small acts of self-care that will help you to relax, enjoy a peaceful moment and then pick up the reins of the sleigh ride that is Christmas.

Now is when you need a three-minute breathing space, created specifically to deal with such feelings.
This meditation can be used to punctuate the day, dissolving negative thought patterns before they gain control over your life, or you can call on it as an emergency meditation that helps ground you when thoughts are becoming agitated, frantic and black.

Even during this short three minutes, you may find that your mind keeps running away in different directions. This is absolutely natural. It's what minds do, leaping around and offering up thoughts to your conscious self. When you find that your mind has wandered, gently bring it back to full awareness and continue following the steps as best you can.

The three steps to follow

1. Attend to the now

Bring yourself into the present moment by deliberately adopting a dignified posture. Then ask: ‘What is going on with me at the moment?’
Notice and acknowledge your experience, instead of turning away. You might start by noticing the sensations in your body, especially where it is in contact with a chair or the floor. But also notice your emotions and thoughts.

2. Focus on your breath

Then gently settle your full attention upon the breathing. Experience fully each in-breath and each out-breath as they flow in and out, one after the other. Noticing the breath in this way can bring you into the present, helping you connect with a state of awareness and stillness.

3. Expand your awareness

Maintaining a sense of the breath, expand your awareness around the breathing to include the whole body and the space it takes up, feeling that your whole body is breathing. Have a sense of the space around you, too.