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1) I noticed lots of thoughts and distractions, especially at first. My body was relatively relaxed, and I noticed that there were two different ways that I was closing my eyes so that sometimes it was darker and other times it was lighter. I also found that I counted to 11 and 12 a couple times, but my concentration seemed to improve as time went on. I had set a timer and was startled when it went off.
2) My hands and feet were cold, but I felt calm and relaxed most of the time and eventually stopped noticing the cold. Sometimes I noticed that my jaw became tight. When I noticed it, I relaxed it. My dog was crying and then playing, and I was able to continue to breathe through it. Sometimes I was a little impatient with myself when I noticed my mind wandering but I was then able to shift my focus back to my breath with more gentleness.
3) The similarities between the two exercises included the focus on the present and on my breathing, a relaxed feeling in my body and a decrease in thinking, as well as a bit of a fight to stay focused. Both exercises were helpful, though the one that I have used since practicing it the first time is the counting breaths exercise. I think I needed more structure and counting provided that. I think I was more impatient with myself during the second exercise, but I was able to practice shifting my focus back to my breath more gently during that one. I also found that it was easier for me to focus on my chest rising and falling rather than on the base of my nose. I can envision teaching these exercises to clients, providing them with written instructions for use outside of sessions, and also using the exercises in sessions. Many people are ambivalent about starting a meditation practice and don’t know how to do it and this makes it simple and accessible. I had been in this boat and am currently resolving my own ambivalence around this through this course.