Exercise: Attention Training
Ten Minutes to Less Stress
Attention Training calms the body and mind. It is an excellent tool for letting go of stress. With practice, you can emerge calm yet invigorated from this entire process in less than ten minutes. Here’s how it works:
Sit in a comfortable, symmetrical position. Keep your spine vertical and your legs parallel. Your feet should rest comfortably on the floor and your hands should rest in your lap. Close your eyes.
Starting with your toes, bring your awareness into, and up through, your body. Imagine every muscle, every bone, and every organ softening fully as you focus your attention upon it in turn. By the time you reach the top of your head, your entire being, including your brain, should feel completely relaxed.
Move your attention to your breath; notice the flow of your breath at your nostrils moving in, and out. Observe your breath without controlling it. Notice how gentle your breath has become.
Shift your attention even deeper. Observe any thoughts, images, impulses or reactions as though they are flowing in a stream in front of you. There’s no need to react to any of them. Just observe.
Focus your attention on the flow of your breath. As you inhale, say to yourself silently “inhaling”. As you exhale, count “one”. On the next inhalation, say to yourself, “inhaling” and as you exhale silently say “two”. Each time a thought enters your mind, go back to “one”. If you get to ten, go back to one. Do this for five minutes or six sets of ten.
To end your practice, keep your eyes closed. Starting again with your toes, begin to awaken your body. Wiggle and gently stretch as you focus in turn on rousing each bone, muscle and organ.
Begin to take deep breaths. With each breath, let yourself feel more awake and clear. Now imagine your surroundings. When you are ready, slowly open your eyes.