I determined that the best place to start, in bringing a new focus back to my Pranayama practice, was with "normal breath." I will begin working with my normal breathing patterns and build on that.
I had the pleasure of taking a workshop with Carrie Owerko yesterday and she was having us all work with a breathing suggestion. She asked us to think of deflating the brain on every inhale. With that suggestion came the idea of inflating the chest - with an emphasis on expanding the ribs outward. So the deflation of the brain inflates the chest. Then with every exhale, softening the outer barrier of the skin.
I explored this suggestion throughout the workshop and revisited it this morning. This idea is such a simple one, but at the same time is very powerful. Deflating the brain, softening the face inward and inflating the chest does help to create a nice quiet mind. The attention shifts to the chest, bringing me away from my monkey brain thoughts for a moment. The exhale is equally beautiful, as it makes the body feel that much more expansive.
After some time the instructions start to disappear. The focus moves naturally to the chest. I tried to focus on the chest feeling almost liquid (as a futher instruction from Carrie suggested). This idea makes the chest feel less concrete - less hard. The chest then eventually can become even less of a focus. The barrier of the skin feels very thin or almost nonexistent, as though you and the world are one. I found myself feeling connected to outside noise - a car passing, a lawn mower, the dog, even just being part of the silence or white noise.
My mind did jump back to action occasionally, as minds do. Thinking of what I was feeling and why. I even found myself thinking that I needed to write this or that into my blog. I did my best to release thought and instead focus on the feeling. Each time starting over with the simple instruction of deflating the brain on the inhale and softening the outer barrier of the body on the exhale.