Breathing Meditation – Your safe harbour in a storm.

Breathing meditation is an exercise in mental awareness, not an exercise in physically controlling your breathing.

Breathing Meditation – Your safe harbour in a storm.

Breathing meditation is one of the simplest and easiest mindfulness exercises. Focusing awareness on your breathing takes your attention away from the raging tempest of thoughts and emotions that usually swirl around inside you during times of great stress. When you feel like you are spiralling out of control on the way to rock bottom, breathing meditation can be a lifeline around your sanity. Let’s take a look at how easy and effective this can be.

An Overview of Breathing Meditations

Breathing meditation is an exercise in mental awareness, not an exercise in physically controlling your breathing. Thus, if you suffer from breathing difficulties, such as COPD, this isn’t something you’ll do with your physical therapist. While mindfulness is generally an excellent antidote to stress, if the struggle to breathe is itself the cause of your stress then this may not be the best mindfulness exercise for you. But for most people, the process of breathing is controlled beautifully and unconsciously by the autonomic nervous system, and makes for an excellent anchor for our attention.

To begin the exercise, place yourself in a comfortable position, relax each part of your body in turn, and then close your eyes. For the next five to ten minutes, focus only on your breathing. If your mind wanders – which it will – just gently bring it back to your breathing. To help you focus (and stop you from going in the other direction and spacing out) keep a running count of each out-breath, from one to ten repeatedly.

After numerous sessions of counting your out-breaths, switch focus to your in-breath, counting before you breathe in. This makes you aware of the different feel of the in-breath – one of gathering energy – in contrast to the release of the out-breath.

When you feel you are ready, drop the counting altogether and just focus on your breathing. While counting can help you focus, it also breaks the seamless flow of breathing into a choppy, discontinuous series of individual breaths. Try to feel the air at the rims of your nostrils, and even on your upper lip.

This level of sensitivity may take a while to develop, but one of the purposes of mindfulness exercises is to enhance the richness of your present moments, bringing to consciousness fine details that are usually missed. In other words, mindfulness makes you more alive in the here and now, and over time this becomes apparent across your entire waking life, not just during meditation itself.

Dealing with Distractions

The issue of distractions brings us back to our primary purpose. When you are distracted by all those random thoughts or emotions that impinge on your awareness, you are like a car driver who allows an obnoxious passenger to take hold of the wheel. You are no longer in control, and this is not an acceptable state of affairs. But it is vital not to become annoyed or disappointed with yourself; in fact, there is something to celebrate here.

At that precise moment when you realise that you have lost your focus and become distracted, you are taking the passenger’s hands off the steering wheel and putting yours back on. You are becoming more aware; you are learning that you have a choice about the contents of your mind. And with choice comes freedom.

Thus, whenever you bring your attention back to your breathing after a rude interruption, do not judge yourself. Take a moment to pat yourself on the back for rising above the distraction. (Don’t overdo it, though, since this little celebration can itself become a distraction!) In a sense, the right attitude to adopt toward yourself is one of loving-kindness, which we have discussed in companion articles on this website. Breathing meditation is, in fact, a prelude to more advanced Buddhist meditations such as loving-kindness, and the calmness it will give you is a necessary precondition for insight.

Using this simple exercise, you will always be able to regain inner control and restore your sanity with just a few minutes to spare.

Richard M. Frost – About the Author:

Effective though it is, breathing meditation is only the beginning of the most fascinating journey you will ever take – the journey within. To see what happens when ancient meditation techniques are enhanced by a thoughtful application of modern neuroscience, visit Meditation Audio Reviews.

Fear of the unknown….

One of the challenges that we humans have to deal with is our need to control everything and need to know what’s going to happen in the future. If we know what’s coming we can better prepare for it. Can’t we? Maybe…. Maybe not.

Forewarned is forearmed” is a great phrase that we like to use. However, let’s look at things from another perspective. If, say, 10 years ago, you knew about all the things you’re dealing with now would you have had the courage to even contemplate them, let alone engage in them! When I first started working with people development back in 1992, I had no idea then that, nearly 20 years later, I would be working for myself as a successful coach and therapist. The fears that would have plagued me would potentially have held me back. At age 21 I most certainly didn’t have the skills and experience that I do now and so wouldn’t have been ready for such a move. Do you see what I’m saying here? If we knew now, everything that we will have to deal with in the future it’s quite probable that we would feel so daunted that we would never attempt them.

Life unfolds in it’s own gentle way. In the same way that a sapling tree does not bear fruit as it needs first to grow in size, put down strong foundations, and mature, so too do we need to give ourselves a strong foundation, grow in experience, and mature.

We must learn to accept that we cannot know what things will happen to us in the future, because it hasn’t happened yet. The choices we make, moment-to-moment, will affect the future path we take and so nothing can be set in stone. That’s all part of the richness and excitement of life though, isn’t it. The not knowing can actually be fun if we allow ourselves to see it that way.

Remember a time in your life, perhaps when you were a child, when you were taken out for the day on a surprise mystery tour or destination. Knowing that you were being taken somewhere fun but having absolutely no idea where you were going. Chances are that there were no feelings of fear about safety or not being able to deal with it. There was joyful excitement about the wonderful time you would be having.

Imagine if you could connect with those feelings and link them more with your life. So, instead of fearing not knowing, welcoming instead the unknown with a sense of excitement and anticipation. With also a deep sense of understanding that, no matter what life throws at us, we are always able to deal with it. No matter what happens, we find a way of dealing with it. Think about some of the most gruelling challenges you’ve already faced in your life where, at the time, you didn’t think you’d get through it. Clearly you did as you’re reading this now.

So rather than getting angry, stressed, and depressed about change and the unknown, instead tap into the excitement and anticipation of what might be coming, and say thank you to each situation as arrives. The better you feel in yourself, the more likely you are to attract wonderful situations to you and/or wonderful solutions to current challenges. Enjoy the unknown and create a life of delicious anticipation, knowing that, whatever happens, you’ll deal with it.

 

Written by Alun Jones for spiritguides.co.uk