Given that you already have some form of mindfulness practice (if you don’t here is an easy way to get started) here’s a quick tip that you can do that’ll add just a little bit of novelty to your mindfulness practice.
It’s common when we’re doing the mindfulness exercise that we are taught to pay attention to the breath, often by putting a number on each breath. For instance, you might breathe in, then out and you would think the thought, one. Now, an advanced version of that is to eventually get to the point where you don’t need to use the numbers, you simply pay attention to the breathe.
But you can change your focus and instead of paying attention to the breathe, you can play with the pauses. Take a moment and experience this for yourself. Take a couple breaths., two or three breaths, in, out, in, out. Notice that there is a pause, there’s a place in between every time you pull in a breath and exhale. You breathe in, pause…., you exhale, pause….., you breathe in, pause…, you exhale, pause….
This gives you somewhere else to focus on instead of trying to focus solely on the breath. Where the breath is going and out of the nose, paying attention to your belly as it rises and falls. This is just an alternate skill, an alternate technique to play with to make mindfulness new and novel again especially if you’ve been utilizing one of the other approaches for awhile and you haven’t been exposed to this idea before.
More importantly, when your in the pause, pay extra close attention to what comes up for you there. What thoughts, emotions or mental pictures come up for you and are they different than what comes up for you when solely focusing on the breathe. Part of the reason for having a mindfulness practice is to be able to detect when your thoughts have shifted, part of it is in being able to objectify your thoughts and defuse from them, but another part of being mindful is being able to become more curious about your internal thought processes and learn about yourself.
All three add up to be pretty powerful agents for change and ultimately, peace. So remember, the next time you sit in your mindfulness practice, you now have a new option of paying attention to the pauses. Pause, pause.