Nothing could be more effortless than breathing meditation - but don't let it's simplicity fool you! The benefits of any kind of meditation are pretty amazing, and the easy breathing meditation techniques I am going to show you are no exception.
Before you get started, you might like to read my tips on meditation for beginners for some practical basics about meditation.
Obviously, the more you practice meditation, the more effective you will become and the benefits you experience will be greater. But unless you get started, you'll never know what you're missing out on. So, let's do it!
Well, if you don't breathe while you meditate you'll go blue in the face - but that's not what I mean by breathing meditation. (Sorry - bad joke!)
This meditation technique uses the breath as the point of focus. Basically, meditation is the conscious decision to quieten the mind by focusing on one thing to the exclusion of all else.
So, in this case we gently concentrate on our breathing to slow down our busy minds and allow us to access that peaceful space inside of us all.
There are a few different ways to use the breath when you meditate, so give each one a try and see which one you feel most comfortable with.
Get yourself ready by finding a quiet and comfortable spot where you are unlikely to be interrupted. Sit in a comfortable chair with your back straight and your feet flat on the floor. If for physical reasons you need to recline then do so.
If you prefer to sit cross-legged on the floor this is okay but just make sure you can stay comfortable, with your back straight. Loosen any tight clothing and you might like to take off your shoes.
Begin by allowing yourself to relax. Close your eyes and take some slow, deep breaths into your abdomen. Feel the muscles in your body loosen, especially the ones around your face, neck and shoulders. Now allow yourself to breathe naturally.
1. Counting Each Breath
This is the easiest form of breathing meditation, and involves just counting each breath. Count "one" gently in your head as you breathe in, count "two" as you breathe out, count "three" as you inhale again, and so on.
Try to keep your breathing even and as natural as possible. Sometimes when doing this meditation we can start to exaggerate the breaths and our breathing becomes fast and deep.
Keep a gentle natural rhythm as you count each inhalation and exhalation. You can focus the counting on whatever aspect of the breath you like, such as the expansion and contraction of the chest or the sensation of the air going in and out of the nose.
You can choose to just count to ten, for example, and then start from one again, or just keep counting upwards. If you lose count, start over again at number one.
2. Counting Only the Out Breath
Counting only the exhalations is slightly more difficult because the gaps between counting are a bit longer. Otherwise, just follow the steps for Counting Each Breath.
3. Follow the Breath Without Counting
This technique uses only the movements of the breath as a point of focus, without doing any counting. Use any facet of the breath as your focus - the coolness of the air going in through your nostrils; the rise and fall of your abdomen, the sensation of the air entering your lungs, for example.
Again, try to keep your breathing even and as natural as possible, and just notice gently.
You will probably have many thoughts and images come to mind - this is a very normal part of meditation. Just notice and acknowledge their presence, and then let them drift on by. Do not hang on to them, or judge them in any way. Just notice when you have a thought and then gently go back to counting or noticing the breath.
You may also be aware of outside noises. Just notice them and then go back to the breath.
No matter what happens, don't get angry or frustrated with yourself. This is about allowing thoughts and sensations to come and go, without judgement or reaction.
Spend approximately 10-20 minutes doing your breathing meditation. When you are finished, sit quietly with your eyes still closed for about two minutes, to allow yourself to return to normal consciousness before going about your day.
No matter what happens, your meditation has been successful, even if you had many thoughts. The fact that you just let them drift away means that you have benefited from this meditation.
Like to try some other easy types of meditation? Click on my links below:
For more on how to meditate for beginners, such as where, how often, etc. please click here.