The Mindfulness of Breathing is divided into four phases. Meditators often embark on either a 20 minute meditation – that’s 5 minutes per stage – or a forty minute meditation – ten minutes per phase.
The foundation of this meditation is to count the breath as it enters and departs the body. This helps to concentrate the thoughts on the breath that in turn helps to still the mind of other thought. Breathe normally while becoming ‘mindful’ of the breath. Don’t beat yourself up if you find your mind roaming – just gently return your focus to the breath.
Stage One: In the initial stage, count (silently to yourself) after the breath from one to 10. Breath in and out then count 1. Inhale in and out and then count two. When you get to 10, begin once again at 1. If you discover you have mentally wandered off, bring your focus lightly back again to your own breath and begin again at 1.
Stage two:In stage two alter the counting (usually silently to yourself) after the breath. Breathe in and out and then count one, breathe in and out and then count two. When you get to ten, start once more at 1.
Stage three: In stage 3, stop counting altogether and just gently focus on your breath.
The fourth stage: At this point narrow your focus to the place where your breath makes its way into and leaves your body – the tip of your nose or the edge of your lip.
Throughout the meditation, the practioner should try to be as relaxed as possible. soften any areas of the face that feel like they are frowning, try to apply the faintest of smiles to your lips.
It is also very important not to give yourself a hard time if you find your mind has wandered off and you have stopped counting or focusing on the breath without realisng it. This happens to everyone and can actually be incorporated into the meditation praise. The best way forward when you realise your thoughts have drifted off is just to notice it and then gently bring your focus back to the breath. Treat your thoughts like clouds passing through the sky. Notice that they are there, that you have drifted off, and then return to the meditation without judging yourself.
About the Author
Mike Harper is an experienced meditator who shares his experience on Meditation Timer