– why you chose this topic
– how your belly, chest, and head each feel when you reflect on this topic
– the emotions that you can associate with these visceral feelings
– the positive or negative impact of any stories you believe in regarding this topic
– the consoling/humbling/inspiring fact that many others are feeling similarly about this topic as you
– how you will feel with increased awareness around this topic
– when you can apply increased mindfulness to this topic in your day-to-day life
Breath is one of the most used tools in meditation practices – and for a good reason. It’s always with you, but it’s not fixed in place, it flows on. And it follows the rhythms of life: it’s born, and it dies, and it's born again.
This is why Breath Awareness Meditation is not just a practice for beginners: it’s a powerful way to feel the macrocosm in the microcosm of our own body and have an experiential understanding of our connection with life.
Although many practices aim at manipulating or altering our breathing, this is only advisable if your thoughts are so overactive that you need something complicated to focus your attention on, in order not to follow your mental narrative. In fact, by trying to manipulate our breath, we might end up tangling ourselves in a knot trying to control something that works perfectly well on its own.
How to practice Breath Awareness Meditation
Breath Awareness Meditation is very simple; all you need to do is watch your breath.
Observe the natural rhythm of your breathing. Feel the air enter your nose, feel the freshness in your lungs, feel the rise and fall of your belly.
Let go of control and just observe.
A step further
If you like, you might also do this.
After a while, start taking notice of the amazing paradox that is our breathings.
Are you breathing or is life breathing through you? Are you doing it, or is it happening on its own?
The answer is: both. Isn’t it astounding? When we put into words, this seems paradoxical, but in experience, it is not paradoxical at all.
Alan Watts explains this well when he says: “It is only apparently contradictory to describe a sensation in which it seems that whatever I do freely and intelligently is at the same time completely determined, and vice versa. It seems that absolutely everything both inside and outside me is happening by itself, yet at the same time that I myself am doing all of it, that my separate individuality is simply a function, something being done by everything which is not me, yet at the same time everything which is not me is a function of my separate individuality.”
Breath Awareness Meditation is a wonderful tool to both relax our nervous system and put ourselves in touch with life as a whole.
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Sean Fargo is the Founder of Mindfulness Exercises, a former Buddhist monk of 2 years, a trainer for the mindfulness program born at Google, an Integral Coach from New Ventures West, and an international mindfulness teacher trainer. He can be reached at Sean@MindfulnessExercises.com
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