Observe is noticing direct sensory experience. It’s what you feel, sense, see, taste, touch and hear without labeling it, reacting to it or judging it. This is tricky for most people at first; our minds want to label what is happening rather than just being with the bare sensations of an experience. When you practice the Observe mindfulness skill you are allowing your immediate experience to just happen – without pushing it away or trying to change it. Observe, like all the skills, is experiential. This means that intellectual understanding of the skill isn’t enough; you have to experience the skill for yourself to truly get it.
Here are some ideas for practising observing by coming back to your senses :
Observe your breath : Breathe evenly and gently, focusing your attention on :
- The movement of your stomach :
– As you begin to breathe in, allow your belly to raise in order to bring air into the lower half of your lungs.
– As the upper halves of your lungs begin to fill with air, your chest begins to rise.
– As you breathe out, notice your belly, then notice your chest. Don’t tire yourself.
- The pauses in your breathing.
– As you breathe in, notice the brief pause when your lungs have filled with air.
– As you breathe out, notice the brief pause when you have expelled all the air
- The sensations in your nose as you breathe in and as you breathe out.
– As you breathe, close your mouth and breathe in through your nose, noticing the sensations travelling up and down your nostrils.
- Your breath while walking slowly. Breathe normally.
– Determine the length of your breath, the exhalations and the inhalation, by the number of your footsteps. Continue for a few minutes.
– Begin to lengthen your exhalations by one step. Do not force a longer inhalation. Let it be natural.
– Watch your inhalation carefully to see whether there is a desire to lengthen it. Now lengthen the exhalation by one more footstep.
– Watch to see whether the inhalation also lengthens by one step or not.
– Only lengthen the inhalation when you feel that it will be comfortable.
– After 20 minutes, return your breath to normal.
- Your breath while listening to a piece of music.
– Breathe long, light, and even breaths.
– Follow your breath; be master of it, while remaining aware of the movement and sentiments of the music.
– Do not get lost in the music, but continue to be master of your breath and yourself.
- Your breath while listening to a friend’s words and your own replies. Continue as with music.