The breath is an essential part of any meditation session. Mindful breathing simply focuses your attention on your breath, both the inhale and the exhale. It can help to take an exaggerated breath or two to start, this can help calm your body. Has anyone ever said to you “take a breath”? Usually to relieve stress or frustration? The truth is, it actually works.
Buddhist meditation encourages people to relax with the breath as it is because the purpose is to become familiar with who you are and the present moment, what is happening right now, as opposed to how you want to feel or think.
To begin, think about the ability to notice the sights, sounds, sensations and thoughts. Find a comfortable posture. Cross legged on a meditation cushion/zafu, a desk chair to sit upright in, or the edge of your bed. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths, 3 to be exact. Slowly become aware of the sensations of breathing.
Where do you feel the breath most deeply? Is it in your chest? Abdomen? Tip of your nose?
Now just let the breath return to natural and try and feel the sensations of the breath traveling in and out of your body. You’ll notice other thoughts, sights and sounds while trying to focus on your breath. Notice these things, acknowledge them and then do your best to come back to the feeling of the breath. When you catch yourself thinking, just make a notice of those thoughts. However, try and do it without judgement and then come back to the sensation of breathing.
In the last minute of your meditation session, just start with some deep breaths and then let your mind go. Open to whatever you want to think about. Don’t be surprised when your mind goes quiet.
After you are done, and if this is your first time meditating, congratulations. You’ve just embarked on a very trivial, simple exercise that is incredibly powerful. Similar to riding your bike, once you’ve trained your attention properly, you’ll never look at it the same way.
You may need to tuneup your practice from time-to-time, or jump back on the bike, but it will always be with you and give you a point of reference to the power of mindfulness.