Step into stillness to soothe your busy mind with meditation
The mind is a powerful thing, capable of holding several thoughts at once. But, often, what it really needs is stillness to refocus and recharge.
Fancy a pop quiz?
(and yes, there is a prize*)
How many parts are there to the breath?
Hmmm, let’s see. There’s the inhale and the exhale. That makes two, right?
Well, yes. But no prize yet. Think again before you lock in your answer…
Want a hint?
Close your eyes and focus in a little closer on your next breath. Mentally trace the path of your breath as it enters the body through your nose, and then follow the path as it exits the body.
Did you notice another part of the breath? (A part so quiet and unassuming that it’s easy to miss).
Yes, that’s right; there’s a little gap, or pause, sandwiched between the completion of your exhalation and right before the start of the new breath cycle.
Take another breath to see if you can find it.
For me, this gap feels beautifully still, deeply comforting and soothing.
Does it feel like that for you, too?
This fleeting moment of stillness serves as a gateway to a simple yet effective meditation practice, called Mind the gap.
Meditation asks us to focus on one thing. That one thing really can be anything — a sound, movement, a word, prayer or sensation. Calm comes when the mind is so busy focusing on that one thing that all the other random thoughts fade away into the background, even if for a nanosecond.
For Mind the gap meditation, the mental observation of the space between inhale and exhale is the “one thing”.
Are you ready to cultivate a little calm with the Mind the gap meditation?
Here’s what to do:
Find somewhere comfortable to sit or lie down. Use cushions, blankets or whatever you fancy to make your experience special.
Whichever position you choose, have the spine in a straight line and relax your body.
Rest the eyes
Make any final adjustments to your position. When you’re comfortable and content, close your eyes or find a soft gaze.
Tune into the present moment by checking in with your senses. Notice any sounds within the room and the sounds outside. Notice any tastes in the mouth, aromas and sensations in your body.
In and out
Shift your focus away from your senses and on to the breath. Observe the movement of air flowing in and out of your body.
Remember, there’s no need to change your breath in any way, simply notice how it is for you right now.
Mind the gap
After a few moments, direct your attention to the little gap, or pause, after each exhale.
Again, try not to change anything about this natural pause, simply experience it; sink into it as best you can.
Stay “minding the gap” in your breath for a time that feels good to you. (Two-five minutes is a great start — set a timer if you like.)
Release and assess
When you feel ready, gently release from the Mind the gap meditation. Gradually bring your awareness back into the room. Rotate your awareness through each of your senses once more.
Bring some subtle movements into your body, wriggling the fingers and toes, moving and stretching as feels good. Lastly, blink the eyes open and spend a few moments observing how you feel.
Ahhh.. Next time you need a calming break from the busyness of your monkey mind, escape to this natural gap — it’s always there for you to enjoy.
*Oh, about that prize. Well, perhaps it’s a bit corny, but meditation and pranayama (breathing) really are a lovely gift for your state of mind!
What do you think?
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