This is an introduction to breathing meditation. It is part of a series of “Meditation 101” posts to help people meditate. There are many different ways to meditate. This is just one.
To begin breathing meditation, you need to become conscious of your breathing. You may sit in a comfortable position. Either keep your eyes halfway open and unfocused at a 45 degree angle looking downward, or close your eyes. Set yourself a time. For beginners, a good amount of time is around 15-20 minutes, but feel free to go longer if you are enjoying the meditation.
Begin by focusing your thoughts on your breath. Take a long inhalation and an equally long exhalation. This first step is to prepare you for meditation. Repeat the long inhalations and exhalations several times to settle into your position and get comfortable. It will also help you to slow down your thoughts and your mind. After 1-3 minutes, or whenever you feel comfortable, stop controlling your breathing.
Feel Your Breath
Just let your breath naturally flow in and out. Feel the breaths come in and out. The goal of meditation is to focus your mind on one thing for an extended period of time. Focus on the feeling of your breaths coming in and out of your nose. Feel the air go up the nasal cavity, and down into the lungs. Let other thoughts drift by as you focus only on your breath and the feeling. Maybe you feel the air getting moist as it enters. Maybe you can feel the breath exit your nose on your upper lip.
Try not to miss a single breath. You can even try counting your full breaths (inhale and exhalation is one) up to 10, then repeat. Even experienced meditators will find themselves counting 13, 14, and realize they were not paying enough attention to their breathing. You may count the entire time or just long enough for you to remain focused your mind, or continue counting throughout the entire meditation.
An excellent way to remain focused on your breaths is to set yourself little challenges. Try to watch your breath for a full minute. Don’t watch a clock or anything, just try to feel the minute. This is more difficult than you’d think with the distracted nature of our minds. If you fail, try again. And try again. If successful, try to be mindful of your breathing for 2 minutes. Then 3 minutes, and so on.
Throughout your meditation, your mind will try to wander in all sorts of directions. Thoughts will just naturally drift into your mind. Many people get frustrated at this point and try to PUSH the thoughts out. However, this will make it more difficult to keep focus. Instead, just let the thoughts linger, watch them, do not judge them, and continue to focus on your breathing again.
Food For Thought
Everyone has distracted thoughts. It’s normal. Don’t try to push them out or judge them as bad. Like trying to force yourself to sleep, it will make it more difficult. And yes, meditation tends to be quite difficult when you start. However, if you keep it up, it will get easier and easier.
For breathing meditation, I personally don’t like to count my breaths. Instead, I prefer to focus more on the feeling of the breaths entering and exiting. There are many different ways to meditate. The important thing is to find what works for you.
There is no failure at meditation. Just because you may not feel “successful” does not mean anything. The true success is actually doing it – sitting down and trying to focus your mind. Just keep it up on a regular schedule and things will naturally get easier. And the results may lead you to a different way of life, full of peace, relaxation, love, and mindfulness.
Good luck and try. Let me know how it goes. Does anybody have any breathing meditation advice to share?