When something is simple we often say, "It's as easy as breathing." Breathing is an important part of meditation. So, how does mindful breathing work for you?
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Breathe. Let Go. And remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure.
10 Simple Steps to Breathe and Meditate
Meditation practice is about slowing down. It is about letting your body relax and letting your mind become clear. Meditation breathing is an important part of that. There are many health benefits to breathing correctly and it is good to learn how to breathe well, for health. Breathing IS meditation practice, though there are also many different approaches to meditation. A good start is to follow these basic steps to learn how to breathe and meditate.
1. Attain Your Meditation Position
Sit and relax. It should be easy, but often it seems like work to get there. Most meditation is practiced in sitting position, but may also be in a standing posture or walking meditation. In meditation, you will stay in one position for long periods of time. It’s important to find the best posture that will enable you to be relaxed and comfortable. Good posture is important both for meditation and for your health. Once you have set up your meditation position, take your awareness through all the parts of your body, relaxing each area as you go.
2. Start with Natural Breaths
The start of meditation is to breathe easily. At this point, don’t control the breath, simply let it flow in and out, naturally. Ideally, inhale and exhale through the nose at this phase. You might take a few deep, long breaths to encourage the body and mind to slow down. Just a few deeper breaths; then go back to a natural easy rhythm. Mostly, just...slow...down.
3. Pay Attention to Your Breath
Meditation begins by drawing awareness to your breathing. Air comes in, air goes out—follow that movement. The practice is to let your mind be calm and pure—no world, no mind, no body. Just breathe. Slow, without strain.
4. Count the Breaths
A good practice is to simply count the breaths from one to ten, over and over again. One breath, one number: Breathe in-breathe out (1); Breathe in-breathe out (2); Breathe in-breathe out (3), and so on, until you count to ten. After you reach ten, start again at one. Begin to focus on how each breath feels. Let yourself become absorbed at how the air flows into and out of your body. Notice the sensations with each breath.
5. Focus on the abdomen.
Breathing begins and ends with the abdomen. This is a good pattern to begin with:
6. Be Aware of In-Breath and Out-Breath
The in-breath is slow, easy, and natural. The in-breath is usually through the nose, the out-breath may be through the lips, slightly opened. The out-breath is more forceful, yet still slow, somewhat slower than the in-breath. Draw all your awareness to this process.
7. Bring It Back to Counting
Don’t feel dismayed if your mind wanders and you lose track of the count. Just return your focus to your breathing. Bring it back to counting. Be patient with the process and gentle with yourself. It’s common for outside thoughts to arise. Bring it back to counting. Distraction is a normal part of meditation process. Bring it back to counting.
8. Check Your Posture
Occasionally check in on your posture. A good time may be at the beginning of each round of counting, sort of between ten and one. Don’t overdue it and squirm, just check that your spine is straight, head and neck are aligned. Bring it back to counting.
9. Slow Breathing—Calm Mind
As you breathe and count, you’ll notice that your body begins to relax. Allow a sense of letting go on every out-breath. After a while, your breathing will become much slower. Your pulse will actually be a little faster. As your body relaxes, your mind becomes clearer. This is meditation.
10. Practice Daily
Follow this pattern for at least 5 minutes. As the practice becomes more comfortable, extend the time longer. About 30 minutes is good. If you can keep it up and meditate every day, that is great. If not, 3-4 times a week will still bring excellent benefits.
Scientific studies of meditation help us learn more about its effects on the body. Regular meditation practice promotes relaxation and mental calming. This enhances your health and well-being. As you learn more about meditation, you can try out additional breathing patterns, follow a mantra, develop mindfulness, and focus on mind training. If sitting still turns out not to be your thing, there is also moving meditation in yoga and Tai Chi.
If you liked this Simple10s article, you might also enjoy How to Do Walking Meditation.
To learn more about basic breathing, try this article: How to Breathe For Health.
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