Breath meditation forms the heart of all meditation methods.
Meditation helps you let go of habitual thoughts and worries. It frees your mind so you can experience your true nature, inner-peace, and pure aliveness.
The breath inspires life by infusing the body with oxygen while it subtly inspires your being (inspiration).
Try this quick exercise to experience the breath’s connection to the state of your mind and body.
Mind Body Connection Exercise
- Make a tight fist.
- Feel the tension in your fist.
- Now, notice your breathing. Are you holding your breath? Is your breath shallower or coming in short spurts?
- Relax your fist.
- Make a tight fist again, but this time focus on breathing normally.
- Now feel the tension in your fist.
Most people find that the tension in their fist is much less when they focus on breathing normally. It’s hard to maintain tension, anxiety, anger, and even pain while focusing on breathing.
You can use this principle in all kinds of situations to help you:
- Relax and gain mental clarity
- Relieve pain
- Reduce anxiety in an anxiety-provoking situation
- Energize your body when you feel tired
How to Practice Breath Meditation
This meditation technique is an excellent way to begin meditating as nearly all forms of meditation use the breath.
With this meditation, you focus your attention—awareness—on your breath, following its repeating, rhythmic movement as your inhale (breathe in air) and exhale (breathe out air).
Follow these steps to breath meditation. Practice for just a few minutes, then gradually build time as you feel ready. Set a goal for between 20 to 30 minutes once or twice a day.
- Create the Conditions for Meditation.
- Choose a place that feels “good” to you.
- Set aside a time that is just for you.
- Sit in an inspired posture, with back straight (relaxed not stiff) and with both feet on the floor or with legs folded in a lotus (yoga) or semi-lotus position.
- Open your mouth sightly as if saying a relaxed Aaaah.
- Eyes may be open (with soft focus) or closed.
- Now, as you breathe normally through your nose, focus your awareness on your breathing.
- Feel the air moving in through your nose, and into your lungs. Notice the gentle rise of your chest and abdomen as you breathe in.
- Feel the air as you breathe out and it leaves your body. Notice the sensations of its effects on your body (energizing, relaxing, releasing, etc.).
- Continue siting in this relaxed manner simply focusing on the sensations of breathing.
- When ready to end your meditation, take a deep breath and savor the effects of breath meditation.
After you have practiced for awhile, pay special attention to the sensation of the out-breath. Eventually you may notice a gap between breaths. You may notice that in this brief gap you are pure awareness (no thoughts, no worries).
Rest in this pure awareness. When you experience this sense of pure awareness or your true nature, you can just focus on it using the breath to bring you back if you get distracted.
When reflecting on your experience, you may feel peace, gratitude, or nothing at all. You may feel frustrated because your mind wandered.
Even experienced meditators lose their focus on the breath at times. If you find your mind wandering with thoughts or emotions, just gently redirect your attention to the sensation of your breathing.
Breath meditation is so simple it’s easy to discount its power. Your breath is your connection to life, to nature, to spirit, to God, to all that is.
You can do it anywhere, anytime once practiced. You can do it while waiting in line at the grocery store, during mini-breaks at work, before meals, or before sleeping. It works in as little as a minute and grows easier the more you use it.
Follow your breath to peace, natural healing, and health with these simple steps of breath meditation.
You may also want to try one or both of these easy variations of breath meditation: Counting Breaths and Affirming Breaths.
It’s easy to learn and costs you nothing but a few minutes of your time.