Listen to this article in English:
Listen to this article in Afrikaans:
Welcome to this noticing and breathing exercise.
Perhaps you have already listened to the first two exercises, introducing the practice of breathing to calm your nervous system and meet the everyday challenges wisely and with kindness.
It’s great when we can find a few moments to stop, become still and breathe, but sometimes our lives are very busy and that’s not possible. We can do the breathing exercises regularly, even while busy, and in this way try to keep our attention in the present moment with acceptance and kindness, and learn to bring this focused attention to whatever we are doing. We develop the skill of meeting every moment, even if it’s difficult, with an open mind and a loving heart.
Let’s practice that now: imagine you are washing the dishes. Perhaps the water is warm, or perhaps it is cold. Maybe the water is fresh and clean, or maybe it is slimy and dirty. Perhaps you smell the fragrance of the dishwashing soap. Maybe you just smell old food. All you do is notice and breathe. In … and out. You notice what you like, and you notice what you don’t like. You notice what is pleasant, and you notice what is unpleasant. You notice and you breathe, in … and out. Even if it’s difficult, see if you can accept it with an open heart, without judgment. There is no right or wrong, good or bad. You just notice your experience exactly as it is. Perhaps you’re alone and it’s quiet, or perhaps you have some helpers and it is noisy. Even while chatting, you can still breathe, in … and out. As long as you can keep noticing and breathing, you are teaching your brain to stay wise, calm and gentle, even when times are hard.
How about trying this same exercise while making tea, cooking dinner or changing baby’s nappy, and seeing if it is possible to bring acceptance and kindness into each moment – especially kindness towards yourself when you’re struggling. And remember: when the mind wanders into other thoughts, you simply guide it gently and lovingly back to the breath. In …. and out.
Why not have some fun trying this “noticing and breathing” exercise in all sorts of different situations? It doesn’t have to be serious! Try it with your kids. Try it with your partner. And if it’s helping you, send it to your friends!