Be the breath


The first act of mindfulness is breathing and unfortunately, most of us lose it at a very young age. As adults, we breathe but usually poorly. So, I invite you to start a learning journey towards skilful breathing once again. There are many exercises that you can learn, but as always it is good to start small and simple. Here is one to begin with:

Sit with your back straight and gently seal your lips. Start to notice your breath. Is it full? Are you using every part of your lungs? Is your tummy moving? Breath smoothly, soundlessly and without pause between the inhalation and exhalation.

Exhale for 6 seconds and inhale for just 3 seconds.

Keep breathing and, if you wish, add a little visualisation. Imagine that with every out breath a little parcel of negativity escapes your body. Let go of muscle tension, mental boundaries, emotional limitations, and release whatever is holding you back.

Continue for about 3 minutes, then gently stretch before getting up.

Go on, do it now… you have nothing to loose.

Breathing is something most of us take for granted, yet our breath is much more than getting oxygen to our blood. It shapes how we are. There are countless moments during the day when we get stressed, irritated or tired. Stopping for three minutes and focusing on breathing is a great way to become more conscious of what is happening. The more we do it the more natural it becomes.

Be the breath and your awareness will expand.


Photo: Anton Repponen

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Five twenty-five


Despite being constant, time is an elusive commodity. One way to harness it to your advantage is through attention and focus. I have adopted a technique that is helping me to get both mindful and focused like never before. I call it Five Twenty-five.

It is a hybrid version of the Pomodoro time-management technique. Put simply; the Pomodoro technique is a way of breaking down time into twenty-five minutes chunks with a five-minute break to help us focus our full attention on one task at a time. I have been aware of this technique for about four years, but only started to use it more frequently last year when I was in Bali.

At the time, I was also exploring mindfulness, and I decided to combine short moments of relaxation with focused Pomodoro sessions. Instead of taking a five-minute break after a stretch of uninterrupted work, I decided to take it before. I had the luxury of working from home where I could lie down anytime I choose to. I started my five-minute session by sitting or lying down and letting go of everything. I soaked the moment and let thoughts float by like clouds in the sky. Then the timer would ring, and I would focus on only one task for twenty-five minutes. If I finished it before the time was up, I would turn my attention to the present moment. The light, the air, the sounds , my posture…  When the timer rang  before I was finished, I would work on it a little more to make sure I did not loose the thread for when I got back to it later. Then, I would start another five-minute of mindful awareness. This is how Five Twenty-five was born. Back in the busyness of life, I have managed to keep up with the practice every now and again and find it useful when I am having to work under pressure.

This practice is also good on the eyes and the back – for a lot of my work is computer-based. I sometimes use the five minutes break to stretch or to do some eye exercises.

As well as improving my focus and performance, I have come to appreciate my Five Twenty-five sessions as a practice in attention and mindfulness. Paradoxically, containing time in 5-25 chunks, has allowed me to be less pressured by it.


One sentence journal – day 11:
“Lack of sleep made for a bumpy start of the day, yoga grounded me, now the afternoon feels like a new morning. ”

This blog is part of a renewed 42-day writing challenge inspired by Leo Babauta’s Zen Habits Book.
Background photo: Loic Djim

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