How much can you feel your breath right now? Focusing on your breathing is an essential practice that draws your awareness inward and helps you experience the presence and flow of energy.Take a few slow, deep breaths and notice how each one moves through you. How much do your lungs and belly expand on the inhalation and soften on the exhalation? As you become absorbed in your breathing, you'll be more aware of the sensations surrounding the rising and falling of your belly. You'll notice the sensation of breath moving through your lungs and trachea. As you deepen your focus, you'll notice the flow of air moving through the sinus cavities in your head. You'll feel the breath moving through your nostrils. You may even notice that one nostril is more open than the other. In your own time, shift your concentration from controlling your breath to simply watching your body breathe. Is the sensation of the breath predominant in one area—the belly, the throat, the nostrils? Rest your awareness on one particular area of the breath, and when you notice your mind wandering, bring it back again and again to the direct experience of your body breathing in this moment.
How much more can you relax right now? Relax the muscles of your face. Relax your lips and tongue. Relax your throat and neck. Relax your shoulders and arms, elbows and palms. Relax your belly and lower back. Relax your hips, knees, ankles. Relax the soles of your feet.The more you relax, the more you deepen awareness of sensation. As you release your awareness into your body, observe who you are as a being of energy.
How much more can you feel right now? Feel the points of contact between your body and your cushion or chair. Feel the vibration of the sounds around you. Feel the texture and temperature of the air touching your skin.As you focus on feeling, you may find areas of tension, stagnation, or congestion. You may encounter surprisingly strong new sensations. See if you can soften around those areas. Let your sense of feeling move beyond physical sensation. Feel your heart and the state of your emotional body. Sense the general feeling tone of your body and the quality of presence. Acknowledge who you are as a being of energy.
What are you noticing right now? As you breathe, relax, and feel, invoke a quality of spacious awareness. Sense who you are as a witness; be a scientist observing phenomena arising in and around you.Notice the rational mind that serves to compare, judge, and seek understanding, and in your own way notice the quality of awareness beyond the rational mind.
How much more can you allow your experience to be exactly what it is? What would happen if you added nothing to this moment and renounced the need to change anything?Awareness has been described as a vast, spacious sky. Feelings, thoughts, and sensations constantly change form and shape like weather patterns passing through. Sense who you are with no preferences. Be present to the process of your life unfolding moment by moment.
Jonathan Foust, M.A., a senior teacher and past president of Kripalu Center, conducts yoga and meditation retreats and trainings internationally.