A Simple Breathing Meditation
Watching the breath can teach us a lot about the mind, and develop a reflective clarity that we probably don't otherwise possess.
Contemporary mindfulness practice is the modern term for breathing meditation, and for cultivating greater clarity and presence during everyday activities.
A sharp mind is an essential instrument for contemplation.
- Choose a time and place where you will not be disturbed.
- Set a timer and duration: 5-10 minutes is a good starting point. More does not necessarily equate with better, depending on your objectives.
- Sit with a straight back and relaxed posture, in a chair or cross-legged on the floor - whatever is most comfortable, stable and relaxed.
- You may close your eyes, or simply rest your gaze on the floor in front.
- Take a few moments to reflect on your reasons for sitting, to set your intent.
- Consider doing a short Relaxation Meditation prior to beginning the breathing meditation, to settle the mind-body.
- Bring your attention to your breathing. One of two places of focus is recommended: the air moving in-and-out of your nostrils, or the rise-and-fall of the lower abdomen.
- Rest with wakeful attention upon the breath.
- When the attention shifts to a thought, sense perception or anything other than the breathing, return to the breath without judgement. If there is judgement, return to the breath without judgement of the judgement!
- Be gentle when you arise from meditation.
- See if you can observe your thoughts and sense perceptions in this way in your daily activities.
- Reflect on your experience. What did you notice about the mind? What did you notice about your behaviour? What was interesting during this sitting - was anything interesting? Was there boredom, discomfort, agitation? Were you relaxed? Did it differ from your previous meditation? Where were you whilst you were observing all this?
- When you sit again, try variations in your concentration or intensity. Observe the difference (if any) it has on your experience of meditation. Is there a tendency to fall asleep, or become agitated?
There are guided audio meditations available on the Internet. You can listen to these on your computer, phone or audio player. Using a guided meditation can help you when you are new to meditation.