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Breathing Meditation: The Cornerstone of All Meditation Practices

August 26, 2013 12 Comments

I recently came across an article on the BYU-Idaho Counseling Center’s website that gives instructions to students on how to meditate. After being blown away be the very existence of such an article from BYU-I, I found that the advice was of excellent quality and wanted to share it with you here on Planting Mind Seeds.

The following is directly from their website, with a few stylistic changes on my part. The instructions are very clear and straightforward — this is an extremely easy form of meditation to try out and, if you find it helpful, master and use on a regular basis.  I briefly mention this type of meditation as part of my larger post on meditation techniques for beginners.  In that post, I mention breathing as part of a more extensive method of meditation, but being mindful of your breathing can be a very helpful and easy form of meditation all by itself.

A Simple Breathing Meditation:

What is it?

All you have to do is to notice and observe your breath; track how your breath moves in your body with each inhalation and exhalation. With experience you can learn to “send your breath” to different parts of the body.

Why use it?

Use breathing meditation whenever you need to get centered, if stressed, fatigued, or overwhelmed.breathing meditation

For how long?

Try 3 minutes at first, and work your way up to 20 minutes, eventually.

How do I do it?

Find a quiet, relaxing environment. It’s especially important, when you are beginning, to avoid obvious distractions. Turn off TV sets, phones, or other noisy appliances. If you play music, make sure it’s calm, repetitive and gentle, so as not to break your concentration. Meditating outside can be conducive, as long as you don’t sit near a busy road or another source of loud noise.

You can meditate on a chair, with your feet flat on the ground. You can also sit on the ground using a cushion if the floor is uncomfortable. If you choose to lie down, place a folded towel under your knees for support and keep your arms at your sides at a 45 degree angle. Be careful that you are not so relaxed that you fall asleep.

Keep your eyes shut or you can also keep them half open gazing to the floor, one to two feet beyond your feet.

Let your attention rest of the flow of your breath. Listen to it, or sense it at the tip of your nostrils. Beginners may find it easier to count their breaths. Try counting your breath (on the in-breath or the out-breath) from 1 to 10 and then, back from 10 to 1.

You will soon notice that your mind wanders because you will lose your concentration. If your mind starts wandering or bouncing from thought to thought, do not judge yourself for it, but simply and gently bring your attention back to your breath. If you were counting, return to 1 and start all over. It’s the practice of going back to the breath that trains your mind. In other words, don’t judge yourself for getting distracted; distractions provide you with the opportunity to build a strong stable mind.

After some time, begin to send your breath into areas of your body that may feel inert, dull, or usually “unreached” by the breath, such as the small of the back. Don’t force your breath, just breathe naturally and observe your breath.

At the end of your session, stretch and slowly move out of your meditation place.

If you desire to begin a habit of meditation and enjoy all the benefits that it can bring you, this breathing exercise is a wonderful one to start with.

Check Out Lesson 2 — The “Listening Meditation”

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