Tuesday, June 09, 2009

MPOW #20 - Focus on Your Nostrils

This mindfulness practice of the week is another foundational practice. It is simply paying attention to your breath. Yogini Saiko introduced this to me in yin yoga class on Sunday and I find it a great way to get into a relaxed meditative state, even when I'm in monkey mind.

The Practice

Sit or kneel in a relaxed meditative position with your spine erect. Place your hands in any configuration that works for you if you have a favorite. I suggest hands roughly palms up on the knees. When keeping your spine erect, imagine a string tied to the crown of your head, gently though firmly pulling you toward the sky. During the posture, allow your spine to relax if you feel too tense or extend a little more rigidly if you are losing focus or dosing off. The erectness of the spine is a useful and important element of posture to control in this and many meditations.

Allow yourself to settle your breathing naturally, without adhering to any particular pattern. When you are relaxed, you are ready to begin.

Bring your gentle attention to the front tips of your nostrils. Focus on this part of the body. As you pay attention to the inside of your nostrils, you may notice that your thoughts keep coming in. That's ok, recognize them as thoughts, gently label them as "thinking," and bring your attention back to your nostrils. Your thoughts will continue to come, but as you practice this, you will find more and more space between the thoughts. You are taking this time for yourself as a treat. So reward yourself by not judging your thinking. Use this time to be gentle with yourself and keep returning your attention to the tips of your nostrils.

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