Young woman practising breathing-mindfulness on the beachBreathing-mindfulness is the most fundamental of all mindfulness meditations. It can be practised at any time in any place – as long as you are still breathing. However, you may find it easier to practise in a peaceful environment, particularly when you are new to the practice.

Below is a six-step instruction for breathing-mindfulness meditation.

Breathing-mindfulness in six easy steps

  1. Sit comfortably, yet preferably with a straight back, on a chair or on the floor. If you slump or lie down you may fall asleep, which may not be what you want.
  2. Let your eyes be half-closed, and your gaze point down somewhere in front of you, without looking at anything in particular. Or simply close your eyes.
  3. Notice any tensions in your body (e.g., around the eyes, forehead, cheeks, jaw, neck, shoulders, arms, chest, abdomen, back, buttocks, legs), and gently release them – let them go loose and limp.
  4. Then let your awareness be drawn to the breathing. Simply become aware of it, without changing it at all. Just let the breathing happen as it happens naturally by itself, and notice the gentle movement as the breath comes in…and goes out…
  5. Rather than observing the breathing from your head, as if from the outside of yourself, place your awareness at the very centre of the breathing, and feel the breathing happen throughout the whole body surrounding you. Feel yourself filling with air…and emptying…filling…and emptying…feel yourself expanding…and contracting…
  6. Stay with the gentle rhythm of expanding and contracting, and anytime that you discover that you have become engaged in thinking activity, just calmly return your awareness to the breathing. Don’t get upset, don’t waste time analysing the thoughts or how they came about, and don’t waste energy fighting with the thinking mind. Simply disengage from it, by gently returning your awareness to breathing-mindfulness.

The benefits of breathing-mindfulness meditation increase over time as you continue to practise. Just as with getting fit or losing weight, there are no quick fixes or shortcuts. Whether your first breathing-mindfulness meditation leaves you feeling calm and peaceful, or not, you may need to meditate for several weeks before you can truly appreciate the benefits of meditation. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that you commit to regular meditation practice over an extended time period, to reap its full benefits.

Fit breathing-mindfulness meditation into your daily routine at a regular time every day. Some people find meditating in the morning useful to start the day in the right frame of mind. Others prefer meditating after they come home from work, or at the end of the day to release the accumulated stresses of the day.

To learn more about meditation and to take your meditation practice to a deeper level, you may want to consider doing the Integrating Awareness Meditation course…