Mindfulness of Breathing Meditation
This is an experiment in translating the guided meditation process into writing. It’s not a replacement for actual seated meditation, but you can use this as a guideline or roadmap for what things you might experience during a mindfulness of breathing meditation on your own. Think of it as a guided meditation in fast-forward. Just take your time, scroll through, and enjoy. —
Begin by giving yourself a comfortable posture. If you’re seated in a chair, sit upright, without leaning into the back of the seat. You may find it helpful to sit near the front of the seat, on your “sits bones”. Whatever your posture is, you want to be alert, but relaxed.
Take a few deep, clearing breaths, breathing out nice and loud, getting some of the tension out of the body.
Allow your spine to be upright, and your chin neatly tucked. Your head should feel as though it’s pressing up against the ceiling.
Your chest is nice and open, your belly, soft and full, like a big buddha belly. Don’t worry, I won’t judge.
If you’re in a chair, notice that your feet are squarely on the floor, grounded. If you’re sitting on a cushion, you can cross your legs in lotus if you’re really flexible, or half-lotus with just one leg tucked in, or if you’re like me, quarter-lotus with neither leg tucked. Your knees and rear end form a “tripod of support,” which is very stable.
Your hands can be placed on your knees, or in your lap.
Notice if there are any feelings of tension or holding in the body. It’s common to hold tension in the shoulders, or in the forehead. It’s alright to just let them go and relax for a little while.
For a few minutes, just allow yourself to rest in the body for awhile, noticing how it feels.
Whether it’s hot or cold
how the skin feels in contact with the clothing
the feet in contact with the floor
whether there’s a heaviness in the body
or a lightness.
Just allowing yourself to be curious about the body.
After a few minutes, you may start to notice your breath.
See how it feels to just start to drop in with this old friend.
Noticing whether the breath is fast, slow.
Heavy, or soft.
Does it have a temperature, thickness?
Not trying to control it in any certain way, just noticing what it’s like for now.
And as you breathe, you may start to notice that thoughts arise. They could be anything.
Whenever you notice the mind just doing its thing, for now, see if you can gently, with as much kindness as you can, guide your attention back to the breath.
These small moments, moments of kindness, are moments of awakening. To guide your awareness back, through kindness, is the entire practice. No achievement, no goal, no enlightenment to find here.
coming back to the breath.
And as you breathe, you may start to notice the fullness of each breath.
You may notice that you’re breathing in, or that you’re breathing out. Your attention may go more strongly to one, or the other.
Your attention may go to the strong pull of the in-breath, or the soft release of the out-breath. One may be longer than the other. They may be about the same. They may be fast or slow. You may even notice pauses in between where there is no breath at all.
Just allowing your attention to be on the fullness of this breath in this moment. Just this breath, here and now.
Allowing the breath to just be.
Sounds from the outside world may come and go, sounds of cars and traffic, sounds of nature, birds. Sounds of people and footsteps. Wind in the trees.
As the sounds arise, it’s perfectly natural to get distracted, or to even label them. You may notice yourself saying, “That sound is a plane,” or “That sound is a dog.”
As you notice yourself catching on to these thoughts, see if you can kindly, gently bring your attention back to the breath, the full breath, the sound of breathing in, the feeling of breathing out.
And as you breathe, you may start to find your breath calming down. It may start to get softer, more quiet.
You may not even be able to hear it.
Just notice how it feels to have a softer, quiet breath. Where do you feel it the most?
Some people feel it at the tip of their nose.
or the throat.
or in the lungs.
or in the stomach.
Just placing your attention where you feel it the most.
You may start to notice other thoughts arise.
Thoughts that say, “I’m concentrating!”
“I’m doing it!”
“This is it, nirvana!”
Even these things are all perfectly normal. The mind is just doing what minds do. When thoughts like this arise, see if you can kindly, gently, bring your attention back to the breath, the calmness of the breath, the quiet of the breath.
And you may start to notice, as you’ve been sitting for awhile, an anticipation for it all to end.
What does this anticipation feel like?
Where do you feel it the most, is it in your head, or in your body somewhere?
Or you may feel a calmness, maybe even a bliss.
And what does this feel like?
Just noticing them for now, and gently, with kindness, bringing your attention and awareness back to the breath.
As the meditation is about to end,
Check in with yourself.
Ask yourself, “How does the breath feel now?”
“How does the body feel now?”
Congratulations, you made it through! Now you can go make yourself a cup of tea and enjoy.
Matthew Martini is a mindfulness writer, designer, adventurer
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