Hi! Time for the next mindfulness technique – breathing meditation, or breath meditation.
Breathing meditation is an exercise that perhaps most of you may be familiar with. Typically it is called meditation through awareness of the breath. It’s the initial and simplest form of meditation.
Actually mindfulness and meditation are terms that overlap significantly. Anything that you are mindful about, you could be meditating upon… So in this technique you are being mindful of the breath and hence meditating upon the breath.
Why the breath?
The breath is a very fundamental part of us. The breath as a concept is completely intertwined with very sense of being and existing, of being alive. It is a neutral and involuntary process that stays with us whether or not we focus upon it. Hence it becomes a great anchor when we decide to focus upon it.
Let’s get started with Breathing Meditation:
Sit in a calm place… In the corner of a room perhaps or some place which feels good to you. Sitting cross-legged on a cushion, mattress, mat etc. has been recommended but is not necessary. If you have children or other members of the family likely to call upon you, make your intention of being absent for a while clear. See that the telephone, bell, television or any other distracting stimuli are kept at bay.
To start with you can do this even for just ten minutes or if you find it too difficult, then even just five. As I mentioned in the last exercise, sit with an alarm or a timer timed to the number of minutes you intend to sit for. Here is a tip from my experience with people in therapy when I am beginning to introduce breathing meditation: Often there is a fear in them: “I won’t be able to sit for ten minutes, it’s too long for me”. Sometimes they wish to sit for longer but out of uncertainty about their capacity to sit, ask me to time it to five minutes.
What I do in such cases is I keep two alarms-one for five minutes and the other for ten. Then I tell them to intend for only five minutes and when the first alarm rings, if they feel that’s enough of meditating for them, to just open their eyes and we’d be done. However, if they feel they can go on, they can switch off the alarm by briefly opening their eyes and getting back into the practice. Accepting our limitations and removing the fear of having to sit for too long usually helps a lot. I often find that most of them do end up sitting for the whole ten minutes! Like in all mindfulness practices, it is important not to judge how long you can manage or how restless you get. The only important aspect is to just sit for the breathing meditation and allow the rest to happen as it may!
Now that you have set your alarm, try and keep your back erect and your shoulders relaxed. A straight back is known to keep the mind alert. However the body need not suffer or be tensed.
Once you are settled in your posture, start to focus on your breath. Know it. Know each inhalation and each exhalation. Know when you have taken your breath in and know it as you release it from your nostrils. That is all you need to do. There are techniques to work with the breath more deeply and as you meditate more you can become aware of more nuances of the breath. However, for now, just knowing your breath as you take it in and as it goes out of your body, is enough.
After ten (or five or longer) minutes, you can slowly open your eyes and stay for a while with how you feel, before you get up.
I do hope you try this and enjoy it too….Do share your experiences on this post with your comments.
Some of you perhaps have tried to sustain a meditation habit, again and again, but found it difficult to keep it up.
Listen to a Guided Breath Meditation
The video below demonstrates a ‘one-moment meditation’ technique. You could probably just do one minute of meditation when you think you need it. Once the one-minute style becomes natural to you, you could then try upping it to 5. The idea is to keep meditation so simplistic that you will settle into it, forming a habit. Later, you may sit to meditate for a little longer, as you are comfortable. Over to watching it now…
Image credit: HaPe_Gera
Post contributed by: Sadia Saeed