Breathing meditation is one of the most popular forms of meditation because of its ease and simplicity, as well as its convenience (breathing is always occurring, so it's a convenient anchor for meditation). Gain the benefits of meditation with the simple technique of breathing meditation, and practice regularly, and you should feel a significant difference in your life and your stress levels in a relatively short period of time. Here's what you need to know to practice breathing meditation.
Time Required: Regularity Is More Important Than Time (But At Least 10 Minutes Per Session is Good).
- Find A Comfortable Position
It's important to find a place quiet enough that you can hear your own breathing, and a position comfortable enough that you can fully relax your body and completely immerse yourself into a breathing meditation. The specific position is not important, as long as you are comfortable, but can still stay awake.
- Set An Alarm
If you have a specific ending time, it will be easier to let go and relax into your breathing meditation. Also, on the chance that you fall asleep while practicing meditation, the alarm can keep you from oversleeping and missing important appointments. (I like to set my iPhone's alarm to the 'harp' sound--I've come to really enjoy this beautiful sound as a signal of the end of a breathing meditation session.)
- Begin Breathing From Your Diaphragm
Before you begin your breathing meditation, relax your shoulders, breathe deeply, and let your belly expand as you inhale (rather than letting your shoulders rise and fall). Some people teach that, in breathing meditation, it's more important to notice your breathing than to change it, but if your breathing from a 'stressed' place, you may become distracted trying to decide whether or not to change it. Better to begin from a physically relaxed place.
- Now, Focus On Your Breathing
Let the awareness of your breath keep you anchored in the present moment. As thoughts come and go, return your focus to your breathing; as physical sensations come and go, gently redirect your attention to your breathing; as noises crop up in your environment...well, you get the idea. This is the basic technique of breathing meditation.
- Practice Regularly
The measure of a 'successful' breathing meditation is whether or not you took the time and sat (or stood, walked or lied down) in meditation, not the length of your meditation or what 'happened' while you practiced your meditation. Make it a priority to practice breathing meditation or another meditation technique regularly, and you'll be glad you did.
- If you find your mind wandering during your breathing meditation, don't berate yourself for it or decide that you're 'doing it wrong'; simply congratulate yourself for noticing, and gently redirect your attention to your breathing.
- Don't be surprised to find your mind wandering or becoming distracted by inner and outer stimuli during your breathing meditation--this is to be expected at first, and still happens to people who have been meditating for years. It's okay; just see tip #1 again.
- Once you've relaxed your breathing, don't try to change how you're breathing as you practice your breathing meditation; just notice your breathing, and (eventually) find yourself feeling a 'oneness' with your breathing.
- For more information on stress management, see some of our Ongoing Resources For Stress Reduction.