Meditation on the Breath
Your breath is always available as a focus for meditation.



Meditation Instructions

Sit comfortably, with the head, neck, and chest in a relatively straight line. Be relaxed yet alert.

Be directly aware of the physical sensations of the body while you are sitting: the contact your body makes with the cushion or bench.

Breathe naturally. There is no need to control the breath in any special way. It can be helpful to begin by becoming aware of sounds as they come and go.

Notice the difference between the bare experience of hearing and any thoughts or images that may be triggered by the sound. Notice how you don't have to make an effort to hear as long as you pay attention.

Then, after some time, let the sounds be in the background and bring your attention back into your body, to the breath.

Be directly aware of the physical sensations of the breath, either at the nostrils, in the throat or chest, or in the belly.

Use soft mental notes such as "in" and "out" or "rising"and "falling," if it helps you stay in touch with the breath. The note is a pointer or reminder to you of the direct experience of the breath and not a substitute for it.

Think of the breath as your home. Whenever you become aware that your mind has wandered away from it, simply return home, again and again.

There are two general methods for keeping the attention focused on the breath:

You can either settle back and relax, letting the sensations come to you as if you were listening to sounds, or you can make more of an active effort to connect and sustain your attention. One or the other method will be appropriate at different times.

Remember: the heart of meditation practice is the ability to begin again, no matter how often your mind wanders.

*Thanks to Bryan Tucker for providing and allowing the use of these instructions.



Next: Walking meditation


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