Using the breath as a focus in meditation is one of the most common and yet most powerful ways to meditate. It is taught very widely, and has all sorts of other uses way beyond meditation itself. Yet to really get the benefit, like many things, it needs plenty of practice, which is why I’ve put together some guided recordings here to help you.
In some traditions, the whole practice of meditation is built around breathing, such as in Buddhism. In others, the use of the breath is a support for other practices that one uses the breath with, as in the use of a mantra.
Conscious breathing can also help in general life, for example to help you be more present, to let go of tension, to manage stress, to get ready for vigorous exercise, to relax, to be more aware of how you are feeling, to help you manage conflict, and so on. It is of course a generally excellent support for healthy living.
Here we will focus on using the breath as a focus in meditation.
The breath in meditation
At one level, focusing on the breath in meditation is perfectly simple, and yet at another it requires lots of practice to really get how it can work for you.
Here you can do a bit of practice.
Ensure you will not be disturbed. Sit in a comfortable posture in a quiet place. Preferably sit upright, maybe with a little cushion to support the “small” of your back, the feet fully on the ground and with a seating position such that the legs are bent at right angles.
You take in a few deeper breaths, not many, just enough to relax you. Breathe in deep, down deep into your body, towards your diaphragm, and breathe out long. And let go and relax. Very gently then move to a slower, more easy and lighter breathing.
Just breathe like that, noticing your breath as you sit there. Maybe close your eyes. Just breathe.
And now, very gently, you can start to attend very closely to your process of breathing. And all the while feel the growing sense of calm and peace.
Here is a guided process to help you practice this wonderful art: