Purpose of the Activity
This is an Activity Exploring Attention Through Breathing
This is a very simple exercise that enables and experience of bare attention, observation, multi-tasking, and the beginnings of play.
The group sits in a reasonable close circle and silence.
The facilitator invites everyone to become aware of their own breathing - breathe naturally but bring attention onto that activity. If the mind wanders, allow it to come gently back to the focus on breathing.
Then allow attention to expand outwards to become aware of the breathing of others - hearing and sensing it.
Allow this to run for as long as seems comfortable (5-10 minutes).
Be aware of changes in breathing and also when we forget we are doing it and when we are focused on it.
Allow attention to take in sounds in the room and outside - after a while we will forget our focus on breathing - then bring the attention back to our breathing.
Now a bit of play:
Try to focus attention on both our breathing, the breathing of others AND other sounds in and outside of the room
Can we do both?
How does attention alternate?
How finds this multi-tasking easy? Who has difficulty with it?
How can we "play" with our focus of attention?
How do we lose focus and control of attention?
Who was nervous? Who was relaxed? How did this change over time?
You can also introduce some music to this activity - a recorded song.
There are a number of fundamentals at work in this activity that lend itself particularly to applied improvisation and may come out in discussion:
- the simplicity of the exercise (I'm finding the simpler the better these days, not over-engineered or facilitated!)
- the use of a circle (circle exercises, particularly sitting down, allow for a sense of ease out of which challenge and profound experience come come, especially in organisational settings)
- the theme of "attention", when related to something us primal as breathing, allows for some rich reflection and discussion without too much task and content getting in the way
- the "management" of attention, of multi-tasking, is a key theme in pressurised working environments - seeing one's breathing as a kind of peaceful harbour to which one can return at critical times is a revelation for many managers and employees