How to Focus on Mindful Breathing Meditation

Mindful breathing is the most basic mindfulness meditation. But basic doesn’t mean easy or shallow. Mindfulness of breath is a tremendously powerful practice. If all you gain from this book is how to do this breath meditation, you have learned something enormously valuable for your life.

Long-term practice of this meditation leads to all sorts of insights about how your mind works, a greater ability to focus in the present moment, less worry, a higher sense of wellbeing, greater emotional balance and a calmer state of mind. Practice the mindful breathing meditation and see what happens for yourself.

  1. Find a comfortable, straight sitting position.

    You could be sitting up in a chair (with your back away from the back of the chair) or cross-legged on the floor. Keep your spine straight if you can. Close your eyes if that feels okay to you. Ensure that you won’t be disturbed for the next ten minutes or so and are in a place with a comfortable temperature.

  2. Set your intention to focus on your breathing as best you can.

    Remind yourself that if your mind drifts off to other thoughts, you don’t need to criticize or judge yourself. Let go of any ideas of achievement or success. Whatever happens, happens.

  3. Focus on your breathing.

    Close your eyes. Feel your breath going in and out of your nostrils, or passing through the back of your throat, or feel your chest or belly rising and falling. Try placing your hands on your belly and feel the breath moving in and out. After you’ve found the place that you can feel your breath comfortably, let your hands rest and try to keep your attention there.

    Allow your breath to flow at its natural depth and speed. Just accept your breathing as it is. It may gradually slow down or deepen, or it may not — either way is fine.

  4. Gently bring your mind back to your breathing.

    Your mind may wander off into different thoughts, ideas, dreams, plans and fantasies. This behavior is perfectly normal and what minds do. Without judgment, notice what you were thinking about and gently guide your mind back to your breath. Your mind drifting off and you bringing it back is an integral part of your meditation process.

    If you start to get frustrated or annoyed with yourself, try gently smiling and take a deep breath. Then guide your attention back to your breathing.

  5. After ten minutes, gently open your eyes.

    Notice how you’re feeling. Have a little stretch if you need to and mindfully continue with your day.

Try to accept the experience of your meditation, whatever it is. Avoid thinking ‘I’m doing it wrong’ or ‘I can’t get it’ if possible. Each experience is different. Be with things just as they are, from moment to moment.

Practice this mindful breathing exercise for ten to twenty minutes every day. You can try it at different times of the day to see what effect it has. After each practice, record your experience.

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