8 Breaths to Joy: A Guided Practice

Using the breath, this practice encourages compassion and can help focus your attention to better work with roadblocks and difficult moments throughout the day.

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The cultivation of joy is a vital part of mindfulness practice. Joy helps us to be more fully present to life, and it also gives us the motivation we need to embrace and transform our suffering.

Here is a practice for cultivating joy that you can use anytime and anywhere. You can do the entire practice in just eight breaths, or you can spend a few minutes on each exercise before moving on. Each breath has a single word to help you remember how to focus your attention.

1. With the first breath, bring your awareness to the sensation of your breathing. Pay close attention to the physical sensation of your breath as it moves in and out. Follow your in-breath and out-breath from the beginning to the end. The word to say to yourself during this breath is breath.

2. With the second breath, bring your attention to all of the sensations in your entire body. Allow your awareness to completely fill your body, and notice what you find. Some sensations will be pleasant, some unpleasant, and some neutral. See if you can allow yourself to feel these sensations without trying to change them at all. Pay special attention to any tension,…