Mindfulness of breath (anapanasatti) is one of the most common beginnings in meditation practice. Breath is essential to life, we all breath on an ongoing basis and thereby have a significant object of meditation available to us throughout the day.
If we approach meditation from a hatha yoga practice then we can employ key aspects of pranayama to help develop our ability to concentrate on our breathing and to help us settle within at the start of our session.
Ultimately, we develop mindfulness of breath however we happen to breath and do not seek to control the breath in any particular fashion. However, we can use some simple techniques of breath control (pranayama) to strengthen our concentration and our body.
Given that we have prepared our alignment then consider the following:
- breathe in and out through the nose
- alternatively, breathe in and out through the mouth with the lips pursed as if using a straw
- lengthen the exhalation using the muscles of the lower abdomen (tanden, hara, kunda). They contract in with the exhalation
- allow the inhale to be natural, take the time to fill the lungs to the collarbones
- at the start of a period, count ten exhalations. After ten, either repeat or focus on the flow of breath at the nostrils; or focus on the movement of the abdomen
- breathe in a relaxed, comfortable manner. Do not strain to extend the inhale or exhale.
- directly experience the breath, keep returning your attention to breathing
- drop thinking as soon as you realize you are thinking. immediately exhaling and focusing on that instead
Walk down the corridor of breath and enter the chamber of silence