FORMAL Meditation Practice
Mindfulness of Breathing Meditation Practice
The Mindfulness of Breathing meditation is a core practice leading to the establishment of mindfulness. Mindfulness of Breathing helps you cultivate a calm, concentrated, and stable mind. As the mind becomes more settled, the awareness itself becomes less clouded.
The breath serves as an anchor for our attention. Because we are alive, the process of breathing is always present and can be brought into awareness. The breath is a dependable object to practice cultivating a calm and stable awareness.
Mental health and well-being are contingent on our ability to intentionally direct our awareness in beneficial ways. Mindfulness is a skill that enables us to become more proficient in this ability. Remember, the more we know where our mind is and how we may intentionally direct our thoughts, the more we can respond to life conditions with compassion and wisdom.
It may be helpful to contemplate the following four elements during meditation practice.
- Aim. We intentionally "aim" our attention to become aware of the sensations of the breath.
- Sustain. We then "sustain" our awareness to pay attention to the changing qualities of the breath.
- Forget / Distracted. Because it is the nature of the mind to wander, we "forget” and pay attention to something else.
- Remember. Once we realize that we forgot the breath, we "remember" to aim our attention back to our breathing sensations.
It may be helpful to think of attention regulation as a repeating cycle; Aim --> Sustain --> Forget --> Remember --> Aim ... etc. Sustaining is, in actuality, just repetitious aiming. Aim --> Aim --> Aim --> Aim --> Aim --> Aim --> = Sustain.
Tips For Practice:
- Practice Time and Frequency: For many people, setting time aside for meditation can be one of the most challenging aspects of practice. We are creatures of habit. Breaking routine and introducing something new requires a generous effort. Try your best to practice the 20 min. Guided meditation each day this week. As you develop a routine and realize the benefits of meditation, practice becomes much easier.
- Relaxed Effort. Cultivating a Light and Allowing Awareness. Bring just enough consistent effort to your practice to be aware of the sensations of the breathing process. Please be careful of the tendency to strive and force yourself to be with the breath with too much effort. Other things will come and go (sounds, sensation, feelings, emotions, thoughts, etc.) There is no need to push anything away. Simply notice your breath as consistently as possible. When you get distracted, gently redirect your intention and attention back to the breath.
- Breathing as a Sensory Experience. During mindfulness of breathing, we are intentionally directing our attention to the actual sensations of the body breathing. We know that we are breathing because we feel it. Pay close attention to the actual physical sensations that arise with each in-breath and out-breath.
- The Breath is Always Occurring in the Present Moment. Mindfulness is an awareness of what is happening in our present moment experience. Mindfulness of breathing requires us to pay attention to the breath as it is actually happening. We are training ourselves to know the present moment reality of breath, just as it is.
- Self-Kindness / Non-Judgment. This practice is simple, yet not always easy to do. Please be kind to yourself. As long as you are practicing with sincerity, you are practicing skillfully. Mindfulness and meditation are cultivated over time. Judging yourself or trying to force your mind to be different than it is, is counterproductive.
- Patience. Try to trust the process and approach your practice with patience and ease. Let your practice unfold naturally.