Meditation practice gives us the opportunity to cultivate states of mind that are peaceful and increase our overall well-being. Here is a simple breathing meditation that anyone can practice, may it be of benefit.
Meditate in a quiet area for maximum benefit. Make sure that you will be able to practice without distraction. Put your phone on airplane mode, shut down the computer and if you have children, let your partner know that you need five to ten minutes alone. Better yet, go outside if you can!
Once you have a quiet place to practice, find a comfy position. The traditional meditation position means sitting cross-legged, back straight with the eyes partially closed and the left hand cupping the right with the thumbs gently touching.
However, comfortable means different things to different people. You can lie down or sit in a chair too; the important thing is to keep the back straight to prevent the mind from becoming sleepy. Recently during class, a fellow friend and dharma student said to me that he often props pillows behind his back in bed and meditates before going to sleep.
How to practice simple breathing meditation
When we are ready to begin the simple breathing meditation, we breathe naturally through the nostrils. It’s important not to try and control the breath. Imagine lying in the gentle current of a stream and riding the current to our final destination this is how your breathing should be – soft and flowing.
Single-pointed focus on the sensation of the breath entering and leaving the nostrils becomes what is known as the object of the meditation. Notice how the breath feels cool during inhalation and warm during the exhalation. Practice for five to ten minutes.
During practice, it is likely that you will experience the monkey mind and may even feel as if the breathing meditation is making the mind busier. That’s okay.
Observe the thoughts as if they were clouds in a beautiful blue sky, let them pass by and return to the breath. Anytime we find ourselves wondering, gently come back to the object of the simple breathing meditation – the sensation of the breath.
Variations on the practice
After practicing the simple breathing meditation for some time, we may find that we are ready to try new techniques. Here are two varieties of the breathing meditation that you may find useful.
Counting the breath
Begin by counting one on the inhale, one on the exhale. As you become more comfortable with breathing meditation, you can slowly increase the number on the inhalation and exhalation, making the total count equal on both the in and out breath.
Again, if you find yourself wondering in thought merely return to the breath then begin a new count.
Practice five to ten minutes.
Mount a mantra to the breath, focusing on the mantra single-pointedly for as long as you can.
OM AH HUM is a mantra that I use frequently. OM AH HUM represents the mind, body, and speech of the Buddha. When we mount this mantra to the breath, we vow to practice virtuous actions with our mind, body, and speech.
What does mount to the breath mean? Well, on the inhale we mental repeat OM. Then we briefly hold the breath mentally repeating AH. Finally, on the exhale repeat HUM.
Again practice five to ten minutes
When we practice breathing meditation, our mind becomes calm and clear. Through continued practice, even when life gets messy, we can approach all situations with contentment. This feeling of well-being is what keeps us healthy and naturally, improves our relationship with ourselves and with others.
I hope that you find this breathing meditation beneficial. For more suggestions on how to beat depression, please consider joining my weekly newsletter here!
Originally posted 07/06/17 on the blog CM
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