So what exactly is going on in the 3MBS. At one level, if you’re in the middle of an automatic, or multitasking moment, there is a place that you can move your mind to that allows you to step out of these routines and the the demands they place on our attention. Simply sitting down and allowing your attention to move in these different ways can be quite beneficial throughout the day.
But what exactly is going on with our attention? The 3MBS as we’ve designed it really is a lot about moving attention in specific ways to help us free ourselves or to get unstuck from some of these automatic routines.
In the space of about 3 minutes we go from wide, to narrow, to wide again.
This happens in the configuration, if you will of an hourglass, which can be seen as having a wide opening, a very narrow neck, and a wide base.
These are metaphors to describe the movement of attention. And the movement of attention is one of the things that I believe is really helpful about the 3MBS. Because when we’re caught in multitasking, or automatic routines, often our attention is not really available to us, and it’s not really being guided or directed by our intentionality.
So, these are some of the speculations, my own ideas, about how to 3MBS is helpful. The important thing is that if you do find it helpful just continue to practice it and figure out, maybe from the inside, how it continues to bring value and grounding in your own life.
We designed the 3-Minute Breathing Space as a practice for approaching experience from two attentional lenses, both narrow and wide.
There are three steps to the practice:
- Attend to what is. The first step invites attending broadly to one’s experience, noting it, but without the need to change what is being observed.
- Focus on the breath. The second step narrows the field of attention to a single, pointed focus on the breath in the body.
- Attend to the body. The third step widens attention again to include the body as a whole and any sensations that are present.
We wanted to create a sort of choreography of awareness that emphasized shifting attention, checking in, and moving on. Accordingly, each step of the Three-Minute Breathing Space is roughly one minute in length. Perhaps because of this flexibility and real-world focus, the Three-Minute Breathing Space is one of the most durable practices utilized by participants well after MBCT has ended.
There is a way in which you can know things by linear thought process — by one thought, after another thought, after another thought.
There is also a gestalt phenomenon of an experience of understanding how something is. This is something that is not in a sequential thought process. It is not thought itself.
This is a method put forth by Ramana Marhashi. A beautiful saint in India who became realized at 17 years old and for 50 years he stayed in a wooden shed near Madras. Beautiful, beautiful being.
And he taught this very simple method called “Vichara Atma” — meaning method of self-enquiry. “Who Am I?”