Watching the breath is simple but powerful and provides a solid foundation for your meditation practice. It keeps you grounded in your body and stops your mind wandering off and driving you crazy. It’s a good idea to start your daily practice with this meditation and then move on to other types once your mind has settled. Or you can just watch your breath as your main practice.
If you’re having trouble with negative thoughts or difficult emotions, watching the breath can help you to gain control. It stops you from getting lost in your head by bringing your focus back to your body in the most direct and intimate way. Simply breathing in a slow, deliberate way can calm your body and mind surprisingly fast.
When you keep your attention on your breath it gives you something to focus on instead of following your thoughts. So this is great training for concentrating on one thing at a time. Learning to focus like this will spread out into your daily life, helping to reduce negativity and impatience.
You can practice watching the breath wherever you happen to be, even while walking around and doing stuff. This makes it easier for you to stay calm, serene and present – no matter what’s going on around you.
- Reduces anxiety levels
- Lowers your heart rate and blood pressure
- Calms the mind and reduces unnecessary thinking
- Aids concentration and focus
- Brings you back to the present
To benefit fully from Watching the Breath, start with 5-10 minutes every morning and evening, building to longer sessions as you feel the need.
Watching the Breath
- Sit cross-legged on a cushion, or a on a hard-backed chair. Ensure your back is straight and relax your shoulders. Get the fidgets out of the way and settle into your seat.
- Breathe through your nose. Allow the breath to fill your abdomen but don’t force it. You can breathe naturally – no need to slow it down or try too hard. Relax and breathe.
- Begin to count your breaths on the exhalation. Count up to 10 and then start again.
- If thoughts intrude just bring your mind back to counting breaths. Don’t give yourself a hard time for losing concentration. Simply return to the breath. If you lose count (hard to believe you would when only counting to 10, but you’d be surprised!), simply return to the beginning and start counting from one again. And again, don’t give yourself a hard time if this happens. Stay with the breath.
- At the end of the session, stop counting and just breathe and be still for a few moments.
- Slowly stand and return to your day. Bring with you the intention to stay focused and remember you can return to your breath anytime you feel the need.
Watching the Breath can also be done anytime you need to calm down and focus. If you’re getting stressed at work, or angry with someone (or yourself), or just plain bored waiting in a queue or in traffic, take a few deliberate calming breaths. This is a great way to bring yourself back to the present and ground yourself in your body. Then no matter what life throws at you, you’ll be ready!