Follow Your Breath – Intro to Mindfulness Part 1

Posted on Posted in Races

Register Now – Run Mindful Retreats

***Visit our website for current retreat offerings by Adventure Mindful and Run Mindful.***

Join me on Periscope tonight for a guided meditation & run on the beautiful beaches of Malibu at 5:20 PST!

Malibu Meditation2

There are many different approaches to mindfulness and meditation. Two great introductory concepts that I use daily are:

  1. Follow Your Breath
  2. The Body Scan

This is a two-part blog that explores each idea a little bit.

Part 1 – Follow Your Breathe

Here’s a intro to some of the topics we chat about at our Run Mindful Retreats. As runners, hikers or outdoor enthusiasts, we are very aware of our breath. On the run as I set out on the trail, my first few steps are accompanied by my first noticeable deep breaths, together being the perfect combination to relax, enjoy the fresh air, feel my body loosen and just ease into the moment. There I am.  Step left, step right, breath in, breath out. Step left, step right, breath in, breath out. Exploring within, I feel my temperature rising, energy flowing up and down as I take my next breath. With each breath I become more in tuned with my body as it reacts intuitively, feeling a deeper sense of oneness with nature as I kiss the earth with my feet, making me feel alive, present and completely grateful for the run.

heaven v2

Being mindful is simply being aware of the present moment; fully living and accepting whatever you are experiencing right now. Breathing is a part of each moment of our life and as your breath is always with you, it is a powerful tool, ready to bring you into the present moment at all times. Following your breath can bring you to the present moment while running but also to the mundane moments throughout the day, making each magnificent in its own unique way. You can be mindful of the moment or mindful of your breath in any location or experience but it is helpful to start out by training your mind to be mindful during a meditation.

Follow Your Breath – Introductory Meditation

Begin your awareness of the breath through meditation. Find a quiet place to sit where you feel comfortable – on a rock, on top of a mountain, lying down in the grass or on a lounge chair, on your front porch, resting on a meditation pillow or on your couch. Make yourself comfortable – feel free to sit, stand and/or lie down. With your eyes open, stare off into the distance without focusing on anything. Take deep, pronounced breaths in & out; loud enough that a person sitting next to you could hear you. Breathe in, take a second to pause; breathe out, pause once again.  Breathe in and pause; breathe out, pause again.  Continue this several times. On the next exhale, gently close your eyes. Continue to follow your breath – inhale, exhale, breath in, breath out. Notice where you feel the breath in your body – in your chest, diaphragm, stomach, lungs, etc. Is it deep or shallow, relaxed or tense? Do not try to change your breath, simply be aware. Continue bringing awareness to your breath, to your life essence – inhale, exhale, breath in, breath out. Repeat. 

This simple exercise above is mindfulness, is meditation. Simply bringing awareness to your breath brings you to the present moment. The power of bringing awareness to my breath has been life changing. It’s my anchor to the present moment, no matter where I am or what I am doing, I always have my breath. Being aware of my breath has allowed me to be mindful during difficult situations; for instance, my toddler throwing a temper tantrum in public while I’m trying to comfort a 2month old who’s crying and I’m exhausted having slept two hours last night and I just want to go for a run. My intention is to follow my breath and notice my emotions without judgment or hasty action; it’s tricky and I continue to practice daily.

Mindfulness on a Trash Mattress During Hardrock

Another moment when I was laying spread eagle on a disgusting mattress in the middle of Hardrock not being able to catch my breath, I didn’t know what to do, I felt miserable and wanted to stop. It was uncomfortable at first, but once I accepted the situation and the change in that day’s plans, all I focused on was my next breath even if it was a struggle and also when I was vomiting violently and profusely down by the creek. I was a mess, I was suffering but I had my anchor and I was solid in the midst. I didn’t even know I was solid, but when you have something like the breath and the energy of loved ones encouraging you, there is nothing left to do, but follow your breath and get your shit together. The trick is to not judge oneself. I got up and finished Hardrock but I’ve had other similar moments that I couldn’t  get up and finish, but I had my breath and I took those moments to really be curious on what I was trying to accomplish and maybe for that moment calling it a day was the best choice. What I’m trying to say, is that some days you turn it around, others you don’t and others it takes much longer than you ever thought with heaps of patience, but not criticizing yourself and letting the moment unfold whether negative or positive. Follow your breath and just be.

IMG_1384

When emotions of anger and sadness creep in, I try to remind myself to follow my breath, little by little as I focus on my breath those emotions continue to dissolve allowing me to clearly think out my best course of action. It has blissfully helped me truly savor moments of joy and love, like the birth of my boys or when I won Western States.

I take a few moments to be aware of my breath and be mindful throughout my day – while brushing my teeth, changing diapers, doing dishes, lacing up my shoes, standing in line at the checkout, driving to preschool. Breath is our life essence, a spark of our existence. Savor each moment, each breath by being mindfully aware and living each beautiful moment awake to this vibrant life.

“Breathing in, I calm body & mind. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment I know this is the only moment.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

Join me on Periscope tonight for a guided meditation & run on the beautiful beaches of Malibu at 5:20 PST!

And come join us at one of our Run Mindful Retreats!

Register Now – Run Mindful Retreats

2 thoughts on “Follow Your Breath – Intro to Mindfulness Part 1

  1. The training in mindful awareness is part of the path with values and goals. Emotional states are evaluated according to whether they increase or decrease the potential for suffering.

Leave a Reply