‘The essence of the practice of meditation can be summarized in three points: Bring your mind home, then release and relax.’
Meditating on breathing is not easy for everyone and if it goes well you can infinitely deepen and refine this exercise. The following tips and instructions from my book ABC of Meditation can help you to both meditate on breathing easier and to deepen:
- The best thing you can do to become proficient in breathing meditations is to practice them regularly. In the initial phase, it is especially important to become familiar with observing the breath and allowing the respiration to function freely and naturally.
- Meditation on breathing is generally easier in the course of a meditation session. Learn to trust this. When you experience less stress, the tension in the body decreases, you need less oxygen and breathing becomes calmer, making it easier to follow your breathing properly.
- Do not try to prolong or activate the inhalation or inhalation on willpower. You do not have to use muscle power when you inhale. With an exhalation you do not have to press the air out. An inhalation or exhalation occurs automatically. Let it work quietly at its own pace.
- Do not consciously hold the breath in the breaks between the inhalation and exhalation. This makes tense. Pauses arise spontaneously and naturally.
- When you wait or anticipate the next inhalation or exhalation, this gives tension. Use these moments precisely to become silent and to become absorbed in the awareness of all the sensations that you experience in the present moment.
- Do not focus too closely with your attention on the lungs and the chest. Fixing on the lungs and chest makes tension. In several meditation movements, therefore, the tip is given to follow the breath only by thirty to forty percent of your attention. The rest of your attention goes to everything else that occurs in the here and now.
- When you become tense of focusing on the breath you can give yourself the image that you breathe in and out through the whole body. That opens your attention and has a relaxing effect. Optionally, you can literally visualize in the beginning that the respiration flows to all cells and parts of your body after an inhalation. At an exhale you visualize that you exhale through the lungs and the nose from all cells. After a number of breaths you can let go of the visualization.
- You can also hear the breath as well as feeling. Listening to breathing has a calming effect and is also a way to follow the breath flows with your attention.
- Imagine that the center of perception is in your mind during meditation. This happens naturally when thinking activity decreases and by consciously assuming this perspective in the beginning of the exercise you accelerate the relaxation process.
- It is easier to keep the attention and to relax on the exhalation than with the inhalation. Therefore, preferably restore when you have strayed on an exhalation.
- An exhale stands for letting go and relaxation. An inhalation brings new life energy. However, an exhalation does not have a relaxing effect on the body. With a good body posture, you will experience an exhalation that the body stretches and that the exhalation gives you extra strength in addition to relaxation.
- The sound of your breathing gives feedback about your state of mind and the quality of your attention. When you breathe very loudly and the breath currents sound forced you probably breathe out of will and you do your best to breathe or relax. There is probably over-concentration. A deep sigh is often a sign of too passive relaxation. You then lost the alertness and strength in meditation. A weak breath often indicates unrest in the mind and is often a sign that here and now it no longer dominates your consciousness.