Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Three-Minute Breathing Space

“The most fundamental aggression to ourselves, the most fundamental harm we can do to ourselves, is to remain ignorant by not having the courage and the respect to look at ourselves honestly and gently.” ~ Pema Chödrön

Many of us pass through the hours, days, weeks, and sometimes even months, years and decades without stopping to drop anchor.  We keep going, almost as if we are afraid to stop and look within.  We are so busy, moving towards where we are going or living in the past, that we miss out on so many amazing opportunities to just be who, and where, we are. 

We also have a really good knack of brushing things under the carpet.  A loved one lets me down.  I let one of my nearest and dearest down.  I lose a loved one.  I act in a way that inspires guilt and sometimes even shame.  At each of these points, there is a choice.  I can look in this moment at what’s going on for me internally, drop anchor to my breath and what matters, and bring an expanded level of awareness to my body and those around me.  Or I can simply suppress, repress, and pretend that life, and the unexpected events that come with it, don’t bother me.  Of course, the latter for most of us is just so tempting.  And yet, if we choose this option repeatedly across a large span of time and situations, we now know that we are increasing our chances of developing depression, clinical levels of anxiety and so many other things that we were trying so desperately to avoid in the first place.

There is a tool that I have found incredibly useful to aid dropping into the present moment more frequently so that we can deal with issues as they arise rather than letting them build up to an overwhelming level.  The three-minute breathing space, originally developed by Zindel Segal, Mark Williams and John Teasdale for use in Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), is now widely used in Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and many other mindfulness-based approaches. 

There are three main stages of the three-minute breathing space, which can be easily remembered as AGE (Awareness, Gathering and Expanding). 

Here is a link to my version of the three-minute breathing space, which also connects to values- that which matters most to us.  Hope you find this beneficial in dropping anchor more regularly in your daily life.  It is recommended to practice the three-minute breathing space three times per day.

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