Meditating on the breath is simple but powerful and should be the foundation of your meditation practice. It’s good to start your practise session with this meditation, and then if you wish, move on to other types.
Watching the Breath helps to calm your mind and body. If you’re having trouble with negative thinking or difficult emotions, focusing on the breath will help you to gain control. It stops you from getting lost in your head because it brings your focus back to your body in the most direct and intimate way.
Keeping your attention on your breath gives you something to focus on, rather than following your thoughts. So it’s great training for concentrating on one thing at a time. This focus will spill out into your daily life, reducing negativity and making it easier for you to stay calm, serene and present.
- 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 old 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!