How Can I Focus On Breathing?

Watch your breathing process ‘passively’. Notice the in-breaths and out-breaths as they happen – short, long, deep shallow, whatever. Don’t try to change them. Focus on the changing sensations in the body, as the air moves in and out. Be like a person sitting on the beach, watching the rising and falling waves in the sea. The changing sensations are like those waves – invisible waves of air flowing into your body and flowing out. Don’t attempt to breathe deeply or slowly, as this is NOT Yoga based breathing. The breathing pattern may change on its own. That is OK. Passively watch the changes.

Part I: Describes six basic modes of ‘Focusing on breathing’. Try each mode for 1 to 2 minutes and see how you feel. You are free to use any of the modes you like. Practice them eyes closed, for better impact, except for the ‘staring mode’.

Part II: Describes variations of  the above basic modes.  Try them, after you practice the basic modes for some time.

Part I

Folding mode: Start with any one hand. Gently fold the little finger. Breathe in, feeling the coolness inside the nose. When breathing out, silently repeat the number ‘one, one, one’. Breathe in second time, feeling the coolness inside the nose. When breathing out, silently repeat ‘two, two, two’. Breathe in third time. When breathing out, silently repeat ‘three, three, three’. Release the little finger. Repeat the same steps at the other four fingers – ring finger, middle finger, index finger and the thumb. Then switch to the other hand and repeat the same steps. Continue practicing, switching the hands. Why repeat the number being counted ? See (1). VIDEO of Folding mode at (6)

Tip mode: Touch the tip of the thumb to the tip of the little finger of one hand. Breathe three times as explained above. Repeat the same, at each of the next 3 finger tips. When you are at the thumb, place the tip of the index finger at the base of the thumb and breathe three times. Then switch to the other hand and repeat the same practice. Continue practicing switching the hands. 

Segment mode: Every finger has two cross lines, dividing it into three parts called segments. Place the tip of the thumb at the top segment of the little finger. Breathe three times as explained under the ‘Folding mode’  Move the thumb to the middle segment and breathe three times. Move to the bottom segment and breathe three times. Repeat the same steps at the next three fingers. At the thumb, place the tip of the index finger on its segments and follow the same steps. Then switch to the other hand and repeat the same. Continue practicing switching the hands.

Counting mode: Don’t use fingers. Breathe three times, counting them in the mind, as explained under the ‘Folding mode’. When you breathe out next time, restart counting from ‘one, one, one’. Every time, count the breaths only up to three. Continue practicing as long as you like. Every time your mind wanders and you lose track of the breaths, resume counting the breaths, starting from ‘one, one, one’.

Feeling mode: Don’t use fingers. Don’t count. When breathing in, feel the coolness inside the nose. When breathing out, feel the warm or neutral sensation. You can also place a hand on your abdomen and focus on its slight moving out as you breathe in and moving out as you breathe out.

Staring mode: Select a small but prominently visible spot, mark or object at eye your level or below, as a target. While continuously staring at the target, practice any of the above breathing modes.  More at (2)

911  Mode: Breathe in through the nose or mouth quickly. Keep your lips almost closed with just a small  opening like you are holding an imaginary straw between them. Blow air through the lips. Focus on the sensation at the lips. The outgoing breath will be slow and long.  Repeat this as long as you need to get quick relief from stress of any kind. More at (3)

Part II – Variations

We can develop our own variations of the above basic modes. These are some variations I use  - ‘Engaging the idle hand’, ‘Visualizing mode’ and ‘Dynamic modes’ . More at (4).

Training Children

Adults need to demonstrate the modes and practice along with them, for a few brief sessions. Introduce it to them as a fun activity. They readily absorb the technique.  Whenever they feel the need to comfort themselves, they use it as their own tool. More at (5).

(1) Why repeat the number being counted?
(2) Staring mode
(3) 911 mode
(4) Variations of the modes
(5) Training children
(6) VIDEO of Folding mode

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Parent page:  ’LEVEL I – Focusing on breathing’

Next page: Waiting for sleep

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