As its name implies, the ‘Mindfulness of Breathing’ uses the breath as an object of concentration. By focusing on the breath you become aware of the mind’s tendency to jump from one thing to another. The simple discipline of concentration brings us back to the present moment and all the richness of experience that it contains. It is a way to develop mindfulness, the faculty of alert and sensitive awareness. And it is an excellent method for cultivating the states of intense meditative absorption known as dhyana. As well as this, the mindfulness of breathing is a good antidote to restlessness and anxiety, and a good way to relax: concentration on the breath has a positive effect on your entire physical and mental state.The meditation has four progressive stages leading to a highly enjoyable level of concentration. To start with five minutes per stage is a good period of practice.
- In the first stage you use counting to stay focused on the breath. After the out-breath you count one, then you breathe in and out and count two, and so on up to ten, and then you start again at one.
- In the second stage you subtly shift where you breathe, counting before the in-breath, anticipating the breath that is coming, but still counting from one to ten, and then starting again at one.
- In the third stage you drop the counting and just watch the breath as it comes in and goes out.
- In the final stage the focus of concentration narrows and sharpens, so you pay attention to the subtle sensation on the tip of the nose where the breath first enters and last leaves the body.
Listen to or download full guided introductions to the Mindfulness of Breathing.