Tag Archives: mindfulness of the breath

practice during the night

For my practice on the 24th, I decided to revisit the Core Breathing practice from the Stop, Breathe & Think app. I was interested to see how I would fare with a familiar practice as lately I’ve been changing up what I do quite a bit.

I did this practice lying down when I woke up in the night. I had to focus on breathing in through my nose and out through my mouth, and I found it very helpful to picture the movement of air in and out of my lungs as I did the practice.

My thoughts became a bit distracting towards the end of the practice, but I did manage to bring my attention back to my breath to finish. I think this mind-wandering could have been at least in part because I was so sleepy.

I’m not sure if I’ll try to do this type of practice again when I wake up in the night. It did help me to get back to sleep but it was also harder to maintain a sense of awareness because I was drowsy. I’m not sure whether I should try to lean in to the way it helps or if it will make practising at other times harder. If any of you use mindfulness to help with getting (back) to sleep I’d be interested to hear your experiences!

Photo by Krista Mangulsone on Unsplash


morning mindfulness of the breath

For my mindfulness yesterday (it’s just gone past midnight!), I listened to Core Breathing from the Stop, Breathe & Think app.

I did this practice right at the start of my day, before I got up. It involved sitting up and imagining the movement of air in and out of my body as I breathed.

I’ve really enjoyed bringing my attention to the breath during the last few practices I’ve done, and it was no different today. I experienced a sense of grounding from focussing on my breath and I also noticed that I was still aware of my breathing even after the practice had ended!

It’s interesting to me how the awareness cultivated through mindfulness continues outside the boundaries of formal practice. Indeed, I know that since being introduced to mindfulness I’m better at noticing when I’m tensing certain body parts or sitting in a way that causes me discomfort, and I’m learning to allow myself to make adjustments based on what I feel.

Today, I felt calm and alert at the end of the practice, which put me in a good place for starting my day in a positive manner! I was particularly pleased by this because in the past when I’ve attempted practices in the morning I’ve ended up falling asleep. I think that sitting up for today’s practice helped to avoid this, and I’m keen to explore morning mindfulness further as I progress in my mindfulness journey.

What are your experiences of practising mindfulness right after you wake up? If you’ve had more success than me, I’d love to know!

Photo by Brian Gonzalez on Unsplash

catch-up post: mindfulness of breath

I’ve been a little busier than I anticipated these past few days, so this post holds updates on how the First Month Challenge has gone for days 7-9! I made notes after my daily practices and have only been able to write them up for the blog today. I’m hopeful that keeping this blog will allow me to develop the time management skills that I’ll need to update regularly, but for now I’ll summarise in this catch-up post.

Day 7, 20th May 

Today I completed Day 4 from the Days of Calm series on the Calm app. Entitled Pulling Out of Autopilot, it encouraged me to pay attention to my breath so that I wasn’t just breathing automatically but instead noticing the steps that made up the whole process.

I found the practice easy to follow and I had lots of opportunities to practise bringing my attention back to the breath after it drifted away. After the practice ended, I felt the urge to extend it so I continued to do some unguided focused breathing.

The practice left me feeling calm and grounded, and so far I’d definitely recommend this series as a gentle introduction to mindfulness.

Day 8, 21st May

I had a long day today, with a busy volunteering session during the day and then helping my friends with revision in the evening. This left me with little time for a formal practice, so I decided to do some mindful breathing as I prepared for sleep.

I did this lying down in my bed and brought my focus to the slow movement of air into and out of my lungs. It was very relaxing and settled me down for a peaceful night.

Day 9, 22nd May 

I did my practice for today lying in bed at 1pm, having gone back to bed to lie down after a slow morning.

I decided to continue with the Days of Calm series on the Calm app, today listening to Day 5, The Value of Non-Doing. It involved paying close attention to the breath and noticing where I could feel it most strongly in my body. Today that was around my nostrils, as the sensation of air moving in and out felt particularly strong.

I did get pulled away by thoughts a little as the practice went on, but I kept going and continued to bring my attention back to the breath. I ended the practice feeling calm and refreshed.

mindfulness for distress

It’s day six and I had a bit of a weird day today.

I’ve been binge-watching the series UnREAL, which has been a bit hard as it features someone who is dealing with poor mental health. I struggle to see depictions of depression etc. as it sometimes hits too close to home with how I’ve felt before. At the same time, I feel compelled with this series to keep watching and find out what happens to this character.

I haven’t been in the head-space to do a proper mindfulness practice today but I did bring mindfulness in when I took  a shower earlier.

I tend to get stressed by showering at the moment, as with the constant sounds and sensations it all gets a bit overwhelming. I paused midway through and brought myself back to my breath, which helped me to be able to make it through the shower without needing to sit down and take a break.

I think this is a good example of how using moments of mindfulness can be helpful during short periods of distress where it isn’t feasible to do a formal mindfulness practice.

Now I know I have this in my mental tool-belt for next time I take a shower!

my brain is a box in a house

Sometimes I describe my brain as a box in a house.

When I’m feeling okay, the box is in one of many bright rooms in the house. There’s plenty of space to think. On days when I’m feeling low, the house has shrunk to just one dark room and I have much less space to think and cope.

But on some days (I don’t even have to be feeling particularly low), my head feels so blurry that it’s as if the house has shrunk to a single black room that is only barely the size of the box. I don’t think it even counts as a room any more! I don’t have any space to think and I struggle to maintain a pattern of thought and hold conversations. Everything feels fuzzy and slightly wrong, and I am powerless to change this. For a long time, I’ve simply had to wait it out.

Everything feels fuzzy and wrong, and I am powerless to change this

I went into today’s practice feeling like this. I had been feeling a bit off all day, like my head was stuck in treacle and I couldn’t think fast enough. I also felt quite negative about how I was managing to cope with this blurry head, which led me to feel low as well.

I decided to try some short mindfulness practices to see if they would have any effect on this head-space.

The first practice I used was Belly Breathing from the app Stop, Breathe & Think. It involved placing my hands on my belly and breathing deeply. It was fairly simple, but that was all I could manage whilst in the difficult head-space. I ended the practice feeling like I had a little more room to think, but my head was still fairly blurry.

Next I tried another app called Calm. It has a meditation series named 7 Days of Calm, which is an introduction to mindfulness meditation. Having previously completed Day 1, today I listened to Day 2, Returning to the Here and Now, which involved sitting up and focussing on my breathing. I finished the practice feeling calm and a little more clear-headed.

I then tried Day 3, Paying Attention. I was led from my head to my feet in a quick body scan. I managed to maintain my awareness for most of the body scan and ended the practice feeling relaxed and calm. I felt like my head-space had grown and I could think again. The box of my brain was at least in a room bigger than it now, if not in a whole floor or house. I also felt less negative about my mood than I did when I began today’s practices.

Nothing else has had such an impact on my mood and ability to cope in as short a space of time as 30 minutes

This effect of clearing my head and giving me back some mental capacity is what continues to draw me to mindfulness. Nothing else I’ve tried has had such an impact on my mood and ability to cope in only 30 minutes. I really think mindfulness practice refreshes the brain.

Do any of you have unusual ways that you use to describe your head-space on difficult days? I’d be really interested to hear how you find mindfulness effects you when you’re in that place.

Photo by Francisco Gomes on Unsplash