Breathing Exercises

 

Hi everyone, welcome to The Enthusiastic Buddhist. Today I'm going to be leading you through a simple 10 minute guided meditation on your breath. This technique is what is most commonly taught as a mindfulness breathing exercise for those who are interested in the practice of mindfulness. In Buddhism, this breathing meditation is usually referred to as Shamatha meditation or Calm Abiding Meditation. Because our minds are generally so busy, we need to quieten our minds down and make them more concentrated before we can do proper insight meditation. Insight meditation is a meditation done to inquire into the true nature of ourselves and it leads to personal freedom. But in the context of practicing mindfulness, this breathing meditation is extremely helpful for strengthening our quality of mindfulness and awareness, so that we can continue to practice mindfulness right throughout our day and derive all the great benefits that come from practicing mindfulness.

So I'll begin the meditation by guiding you through the instructions first and helping to calm your mind. Then we'll do two techniques on meditating on our breath. The first technique we'll do is counting our breaths, and we'll do this for the first five minutes. Then in the next 5 minutes, you can continue the counting technique if you like, or you can drop the counting, and simply meditate on your breath. So bring yourself into a comfortable meditation posture. Make sure that your back is straight. Place your hands in the posture of developing concentration, for instance, with your right hand on the palm of your left hand and your thumbs gently touching. Your eyes can be half open or closed, whichever is more comfortable for you. But if you find yourself getting sleepy, it might be best to have your eyes half open. So let's start by letting all our ideas about ourselves, our future and our past to just drop away. Bring all your attention to the present moment, to your body and your breath.

Breathing normally, just become aware of the sensation of your breath coming in and going out. Feel the coolness of the air coming into your lungs … and then back out again. Don't try to change your breath in any way. If your breath is short and shallow, or long and deep, just recognize that it is short and shallow, or long and deep … nothing more. There's no need to try and change it. Now, bring your awareness to the tip of your nose or your upper lip. See if you can feel the point on the tip of your nose, or on your upper lip where the breath slightly touches as it passes, on the in and out a breath.

You should feel a slight sensation of the breath around your nostrils or upper lip. Where you can feel the breath passing, this is where we want to anchor our attention to. Just continue to notice the sensation here of the breath touching this spot as the air comes in and goes out. If you have any trouble breathing through your nose, then it's okay to breathe through your mouth. So, without following your breath all the way into your body, just focus all your attention on this spot on the tip of your nose or on your top lip where you can feel your breath touching.

Just like a man standing guard at a gate, place all your attention on where you feel the breath, without moving from that spot. This is the spot which you want to return to, to bring your mind back to, time and time again, whenever it is distracted by thoughts or some noise outside. Now to practice the technique of counting your breath, each time you breathe in and out, and you feel the breath touching that point, you count it as one. So for the first inhalation, as you notice the sensation of your breath, on the tip of your nose or lip, just count it as one.

Then as you exhale and feel the sensation of the breath, count it as two. Then the next inhalation three, and exhalation, four. Just keep counting your inhalation and exhalations until you reach ten. And then begin again at one. It's not a competition to get to ten, don't feel pressured or in a rush to reach ten. Just breathe at your usual pace. Counting is simply a tool to increase your concentration. If you get distracted by thoughts at any time, just gently come back to your breath without mentally punishing yourself. Be happy instead you found your breath again. So for the next five minutes continue the technique of counting your breaths in your own time. Now if you want to, you can continue the same counting technique, or if you are feeling more concentrated and confident, then you can drop the counting and instead place all your concentration on the spot, either on your nose or your lip, where you can feel the breath. Just make sure you keep paying attention to that spot for the whole of the inhalation and the whole of the exhalation. Try to not let your mind wander. Say to your mind that your breath is the most fascinating of all things at this present moment, so it deserves your complete attention.

But if your mind starts to wander again, just gently bring it back to your breath. So being fully aware of your breath on the tip of our nose or lip, continue meditating for another five minutes. So that concludes our 10-minute meditation. I hope it brought you some peace and some clarity of mind. Don't be discouraged if you had lots of thoughts during the meditation. If you only had two mindful breaths, then congratulate yourself for making some progress. There is no such thing as a bad meditation, as long as you're trying. Now, if you can practice this meditation on your own for just 10 minutes a day, I guarantee you will notice a difference in how you see the world and how you behave in the world. This technique is beautiful because of its simplicity and effectiveness. And since the breath is something we take wherever we go, we can practice this meditation no matter what we're doing. So if we're standing in line at the shops, or doing the housework, or about to get into an argument with someone, then just try to remember to come back to your breath and do this meditation.

Being mindful of our breath will lead to greater mindfulness in general which will enhance many aspects of our life. It gives us the freedom to choose how to participate in life so we don't remain the victim of our negative habits of body, speech, and mind. You can read more about mindfulness on my website: enthusiasticbuddhist.com. I've been writing a few articles recently about the benefits of practicing mindfulness. I'll put links to those articles below in the info box. In the near future I'll be doing some meditations on loving kindness and compassion, so make sure you subscribe to my channel so you don't miss these videos.

It would be great if you could like and share this video if you found it helpful. And let me know in the comments below if you enjoyed the counting technique, or if you preferred the second technique where we simply watched and meditated on our breath. There's actually a few variations other than counting that we can use to increase our concentration. I'll write more about these variations on my website. So take care everyone and I hope to see you in the next video!.

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