How to Practice Buddhist Breathing Meditation

In Buddhism, meditation serves to calm and control the mind and is essential to break the cycle of suffering and attain Enlightenment. Follow these steps for mindfulness of breathing meditation, one of the two simplest meditations.

Instructions

  • Step 1: Sit comfortably Find a position in which you can sit comfortably for the meditation. You can kneel using a meditation bench, sit cross-legged on the floor, or sit upright on a chair.
  • TIP: Use a cushion to support your back if necessary, and wrap yourself in a blanket if you’d like extra warmth.
  • Step 2: Decide length of phases Decide how long each of the four phases of the meditation will be. Five minutes is a good length of time for beginners.
  • Step 3: Set timer or select music Set the timer or select a track on your music player that corresponds to the length of time you have chosen for the first phase.
  • Step 4: Bring awareness into the present To prepare yourself for the meditation, bring your awareness into the present.
  • TIP: For a few seconds, focus your gaze on something pleasant, like a plant, statue of the Buddha, or pretty vase, to ground yourself in the present.
  • Step 5: Close your eyes & become aware of body Close your eyes and scan your body to become fully aware of it. Begin with your toes and move slowly along your feet and up your legs, back, and pelvis, through your hands and arms, and finally up to your neck and head.
  • Step 6: Reflect on what you want to achieve Reflect on what you want to achieve from this meditation—for example, dealing with a particular source of distress or developing your meditation skills further.
  • Step 7: Commit yourself to practicing seriously Commit yourself to practicing seriously.
  • Step 8: Bring awareness to breathing Keeping your eyes gently closed throughout the practice, bring your awareness to your breathing. Notice everything you can about the breath: the path of the inhalation down your throat, how your diaphragm moves and your chest rises, the slight pause before the exhalation, and how the exhalation passes out of your nostrils.
  • TIP: To begin, take a slightly deeper breath to help you to focus on your breathing.
  • Step 9: Count after each breath To start the first phase of the meditation, count "one" after the first breath, "two" after the second, and so on up to "ten." Then start again at one. Do this for the planned length of time.
  • TIP: If your mind wanders, bring it gently back to the breath and start counting again from one.
  • Step 10: Count before each breath For the second phase of meditation, count before each breath.
  • Step 11: Be aware of each breath For the third phase, do not count, but simply be aware of each breath as it happens.
  • Step 12: Bring awareness to stages of each step For the fourth and final phase, bring your awareness more precisely to the point at which you feel the breath enter and leave your body. This might be your nostrils, the top of your throat, or somewhere else.
  • Step 13: Reflect on experience When you have completed the fourth phase, sit quietly for a few seconds and reflect on your experience of meditation.
  • Step 14: Return gently to your life Return gently to your life in the outside world.
  • FACT: Mindfulness of breathing meditation dates all the way back to the Buddha himself, who was born in the sixth century B.C.E.

You Will Need

  • Understanding and acceptance of what you are going to do
  • A place where you will not be interrupted
  • Meditation bench or chair
  • Cushion
  • A blanket
  • A timer
  • a meditation track on a music player
  • or a watch or clock
  • Something pleasant to gaze upon

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