You might be wondering what the difference is between breathing meditation and any other meditation. After all, isn’t breathing part-n-parcel to meditation (to say nothing about life in general)?
Good question. When people talk about breathing meditation, it’s usually in reference to making the breath a vehicle for entry into the meditative state. Other common vehicles include visualization, chanting a mantra, focusing on a single object like a flame or bowl of water, walking, or even focusing internally on a specific location in the body.
Let’s have a look at how to use the breath as a vehicle into meditation.
5 Steps to Breathing Mediation
1. Right Place, Right Time
The first step to an effective breathing meditation – and most meditations, for that matter – is to find a space where you won’t be disturbed. Someplace quiet and dimly lit is best.
2. No Slouching
An upright and straight spine is best for effective meditation, but this doesn’t mean you have to twist your legs into a pretzel. The important thing is to be comfortable so that you’re not distracted from throbbing knees or a sore bottom. So experiment a little bit – do you prefer a chair with a straight back to lean against, or would you rather sit on the floor, a stool or even a kneeling chair? The important thing is to keep your spine straight and your body comfortable enough to avoid being distracted.
3. Pre-Med Prep
No, not the entrance exams, the relaxed focus. Let your eyes relax. You can close them partially or completely. Now take three slow, deep breaths, breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. When you inhale, fill your lungs as much as you can, then hold for a few seconds. When you exhale, imagine any tension in your body, worry or distracting thoughts leaving with the breath.
4. Breathin’ Easy
After three, tension-reducing breaths, just allow your breath to be natural. Bring your focus to the sensations of breathing. You may notice a tickling as the air enters your nose, or the subtle rise and falls of your chest and shoulders with each breath. Observing these sensations is the focus and purpose of the meditation.
5. Judgment, Distraction, and Return
When you begin your first breathing meditation, you’ll probably find your mind wandering a lot. You may also notice yourself judging or analyzing the sensations you’re observing. This is normal but not very beneficial. So whenever you notice your mind wandering or making judgments and assessments of things – either inside or outside yourself – simply bring your attention back to your breath. With practice, this will become easier and easier to do, until your mind really feels a sense of freedom from thought, distraction, worry or discomfort.
Have you ever used breathing meditation? How did it work for you? If you haven’t, give this a try for about a week and then leave a comment and let us know how it’s going.