Anchoring Our Minds: Workbench Exercise

A quick debrief on your first breath awareness practice

This is the first Workbench Exercise of our course on mindfulness. This is a space meant for you to reflect and write down your thoughts, then optionally save (to your device) or print your reflections. Note that nothing you write below gets saved by our site.

You don’t have to do a full debriefing like this after every breath awareness practice, but we think it will help at the start to slow down and more fully develop the skill of anchoring your attention.

Lesson 1. Anchoring Our Attention: Workbench Exercise

Reflecting on Your Breath Awareness Practice

Take a few minutes to fill out the form. This will help you the next time you practice as you gain insight into your experience, such as what captures your attention, and what supports mindful awareness. 

Sensations of the Breath (e.g., short, long, warm, cool, on inhale vs exhale):
Sensations Elsewhere in the Body (e.g., restlessness, tension, ease):
Thoughts (e.g., planning thoughts, judging thoughts, racing thoughts):
Emotions or Attitudes (e.g., boredom, frustration, impatience, joy, sorrow):
Impulses or Behaviours (e.g., to move on to another activity, scratch an itch, stretch):

In summary, our intention isn’t to keep a “perfect focus” on the breath, but rather to notice where our attention is. If it’s where we intend it to be, we can continue to rest there. If it’s not where we intend it to be, we can notice what has caught our attention, then guide it back to the breath.

With time, we may also come to recognize our habits of thinking – for instance, where our mind goes when it’s bored or frustrated. This can help us to better anticipate when we may get caught up in our thoughts, and more skillfully respond. This is all part of developing our mindfulness skills.

As you do more breath awareness practices on your own, try to approach them with a sense of curiosity.

  • What happens when you bring a sense of curiosity to the sensations of each new breath? 
  • In moments of challenge – such as frustration, impatience, or boredom – what might happen if you recognized this as a natural reaction, and extended a sense of patience to yourself?
  • What changes do you notice – moment to moment, and day to day?

We want to cultivate a patient and curious awareness of our experience. The more we can step out of the habit of  judging ourselves, the more we can learn to be curious, patient, and kind toward ourselves.