Last time, we saw what meditation really means. Today, I want you to learn how to meditate using your breath.
There are dozens of ways to meditate. While the goals of meditation, and the states which they take you to, may be similar in every meditation technique, the object which you focus on during your meditation may change.
To make rapid progress in your meditation, you should choose the meditation technique that works best for you or which is easier for you to practice.
For example, for some it may be easier to focus on their breath, while for others it may be easier to listen to a guided meditation session. For some it may be easier to chant a mantra, while for others it may be easier to focus on a thought or to contemplate on the nature of their existence.
In this article, we will stick to meditating using our breath as our object of focus. Using your breath as an object of focus has the advantage that you can practice it any time you want, any place you want, and for as long as you want. That’s something you can’t do with other meditation techniques which want you to chant some mantra, or listen to some music, or light a candle, or sit in front of an idol.
Our breath is the only tool that’s within us, and it stays with us all the time until we are alive. If you learn to meditate using your breath, you no longer need to depend on any external resource or condition to practice your meditation. This not only makes it easy for you to practice meditation whenever you want, but also makes it easy for you to meditate more and more.
When your meditation practice is easy to follow, you, too, will naturally practice it more often in your everyday life. And because of that you will not only advance at a rapid rate in your meditation practice, but will also learn more and more about your true self with each passing day.
When you meditate using your breath as your guide, you become peaceful and happy from within. You learn to see yourself in true light. Your breath takes you away from the outer chaos around you, and helps you to dive within and gain true knowledge about who you really are.
So, without wasting any time, let’s get started with our meditation practice.
Here is a step by step process to meditate on your breath :
1.) First, find a quiet environment to meditate. When everything else around you is quiet, it becomes easy for you to keep your mind focused on your breath. After you gain enough experience in meditation, you will find it easy to meditate even in a noisy environment. But in the beginning, it’s best if you can find a quiet place to learn and practice your meditation.
2.) Now sit the way you feel the most comfortable. I prefer to sit cross-legged on the floor on a mat as I find it more comfortable than sitting on a chair or on a bed. But if you feel uncomfortable doing so, you can use a chair or sit on your bed.
3.) Close your eyes and relax yourself completely. Make sure your body is erect, but in a relaxed posture, so that you can meditate for longer time if you want. Don’t be in any hurry to meditate. Other things can wait. Take as much time as you need to make yourself comfortable and relaxed.
4.) Now focus on your breath. Keep in mind, though, that you don’t force yourself to breathe too hard; breathe the way you normally do. To make it easier to focus, think as if the only thing that exists in the universe right now is your breath.
5.) Observe yourself taking the breath inside and exhaling it. Observe your breath around your nose, or around your chest, or around your stomach. Feel your breath expand and contract within your body. Your breath may be slow, or it may be fast; your breath may be deep, or it may be shallow. Continue to keep your focus on your breath. Sometimes, deep breathing helps you keep your focus on your breath. If you can do that naturally then do it, else just keep breathing the way you normally do. Don’t force yourself into anything.
6.) As the minutes pass by, you may find your focus moving away from your breath to your thoughts or your feelings. Whenever that happens, bring your focus back to your breath in a gentle way. When such distractions happen, don’t try to keep your focus on your breath by concentrating too hard. Let the thoughts come and go by on their own. Don’t participate in them in any way. Simply bring your focus back to your breath.
7.) After practicing meditation for some time, you will see that the distracting thoughts keep disappearing from your mind one by one. When your mind becomes empty of all thoughts, you are able to observe your breath more closely. You can feel it going through your nose to your chest, and then to your stomach. The same way you can feel it moving from your stomach to your chest, and then to your nose.
8.) Keep practicing. With enough practice, you will start to feel as if your breath is the only thing that exists now. You will become one with your breath. That’s when true meditation begins. You feel the oneness with your breath and you realize, possibly for the very first time, that you are separate from your body and mind. You gain new understanding about yourself and the nature of your body and mind.
9.) During the whole process make sure that you are comfortable in every way : in your body posture, in the way you concentrate your mind, in the way you breathe. When you are new to meditation, you should never force yourself to concentrate too hard on anything; doing this may even cause you stress or headache. When you gain enough experience doing meditation, you will be able to concentrate in less time and with less effort.
10.) Before you end your meditation, remember to come out of your meditative state in a gentle and slow way. Don’t get up immediately from your sitting posture. First, come back fully to your normal state in which you can listen and sense things around you just as you normally do. Then, slowly, open your eyes and wait for a couple of minutes to get fully accustomed with your surrounding. Now get up slowly and walk a little to make your body active.
Now you are ready to do any other work if you need to. Just remember that whenever you go into a meditative state, and whenever you come out of a meditative state, you take your own time to do so. Never do it in a hurry. When you force yourself to get into a meditative state, or when you get up suddenly from your meditative posture, you are more likely to harm yourself than gain any benefit from your meditation practice.
The first few times you meditate, you may find in hard to sit in the right posture, or to keep your focus on your breath. That’s alright. It takes practice and patience to find the right posture, the right focus, and the right understanding to meditate. Just be patient with your meditation practice. Don’t rush yourself. Keep practicing and you will get there.
If you practice meditation for few weeks you will start to see the benefits of meditation for yourself. You will feel more peaceful from within than you normally do. You will feel less stressed than you normally do. And, besides you, others, too, will feel happy and peaceful to be around you.
Just as the Buddha said that his teachings were beautiful in the beginning, beautiful in the middle, and beautiful in the end. The same way, the path of meditation is beautiful in the beginning, beautiful in the middle, and beautiful in the end.
So what are you waiting for? Start walking this beautiful path of meditation today.