An Introduction to Breathing Meditation

I mentioned at the beginning of our challenge that there are many types of meditation. Which you choose will ultimately be based on your purpose and your preference. I'd like to get started talking about specific kinds by telling you about the most basic, and that's breathing meditation. Some refer to it as mindful breathing or mindful meditation. It may be a simple process, but it's a powerful one. Let's take a look at what breathing meditation is, its benefits and how to do it.

About Breathing Meditation

Meditation is all about focusing your mind, and that's just what paying attention to your breath does. By taking deep breaths and letting them out in a controlled manner, you're able to reach a state of calmness and serenity. This state is both physical and mental. In monitoring your breath, you're controlling your focus. The technique of controlled breathing is an ancient one that has withstood the test of time because it works. It's the awareness of your breath that will help to return your focus and to center you while meditating.

Benefits of Mindful Breathing

One of the biggest benefits of mindful breathing is its ability to provide stress relief. As I noted above, deep, focused breathing is calming. This is a technique that goes beyond your meditation practice. You can use it anywhere and at any time when you're feeling stressed. Again, mindfulness meditation helps to focus and center you by making a connection between mind and body. Some say it brings about enlightenment. Being aware of your breath leads you to be mindful of the present moment. This is a powerful skill that not many possess. In today's hectic world, our minds often seem to control us, going about in a million different directions. Mindful meditation puts us in control of our thoughts, allowing us to see things more clearly. Finally, breathing meditation teaches you to let go of negativity. You'll soon learn that you have a negative thought, but simply let it go and to pass you by. This skill can be transferred to other areas of your life beyond your meditation practice.

How to Perform Breathing Meditation

First, you'll want to find a comfortable and quiet place to sit. You could choose a chair, while sitting up straight with your back not resting on the chair back. Or the floor in a cross-legged position is fine. Just try to keep your spine as straight as possible. You can close your eyes or leave them open. Take a moment to remind yourself that it's your breathing that's important in this exercise. Be sure to return to your breath if your mind starts to wander. Then start to breathe, in and out, while paying attention to its cadence. You can breathe deeply through your diaphragm, allowing your belly to expand as you inhale. Many say this is the most cleansing and calming type of breath. However, breathing in a more shallow way in which only your chest rises with each breath is fine, too. Choose which is most natural and comfortable to you. Once you begin to fall into a comfortable breathing pattern, focus on that breath. Return to it if your thoughts start to drift. Always bring your attention back to your breathing. Do this for about ten minutes. You can set a timer to help you keep track.

As with any new activity, it will take time and practice before you're able to feel in control of your thoughts. That's okay. Be gentle on yourself and keep trying. Soon you'll find your rhythm and will begin to see those benefits of breathing meditation in action.