Guide for Breathing Meditation Techniques

"When the breath wanders, the mind is unsteady, but when the breath is still, so is the mind still" - Hatha Yoga Sutra

This guide for breathing meditation techniques has some very simple techniques to get you started quickly.

Why breathing meditation?

Well, there are two reasons.

First, breath is a convenient 'tool' for practicing meditation for everyone (as no one has difficulty finding it).

Second, it comes strongly recommended for beginners, as breath is a completely natural process that keeps things simple in the beginning.

You probably know too well how our powerful, deluded mind leads us astray at every instant.

Providing ready fodder during meditation, in the form of imagery and other props usually makes its job easier.

Please don't get me wrong. I am not implying that meditations involving creative visualization, chanting, imagery or invocation are to be avoided, only that it is easier to start with the breath in the early days of practice.

Keeping the focus firmly on breath severely limits the options made available to the mind and prevents it from distracting us into one of its 'stories.'

The techniques listed here can be used both by beginners and advanced students of meditation, who may find them useful for 'centering' when their main meditation practice ebbs temporarily.

Count-of-four breathing meditation technique

  • Focus your attention at the tip of your nostrils. Observe and feel the flow of air as you breath in and out
  • Count 1 as you exhale. Again inhale, exhale and count 2
  • Count every time you exhale until you reach 4
  • Then start counting again from 1

Remember that the count is not the important thing, observing your breath is. If your mind wanders, bring it back gently to focus on the breath again by drawing attention to the tip of the nostrils.

It is natural for the mind to resist all attempts at self-discipline, so don't get dejected if it wanders continually.

It happens to everyone!

Just be watchful and come back to your breath every time you find yourself distracted.

Practice this meditation for 10-15 minutes every day.

Nine-cycle breathing meditation technique

  • Inhale from left nostril and exhale through right nostril for three breaths
  • Then inhale through right and exhale from left for three more
  • Finally inhale and exhale through both nostrils for three breaths completing the cycle of nine, before starting over

Pay close attention not only to every single breath, but also to the beginning, middle and end of each in-breath and out-breath, and to the spaces in-between.

This technique helps you establish and maintain mindfulness.

Alternate nostril breathing

Also known as nadi shodhan (purifying the channel) or anulom vilom, it forms an integral part of most yoga and pranayama routines.

It is a great technique that not only helps with meditation, but also with internal healing. You can read about it here.

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