What is Breath meditation?
Simply put, breathing meditation is the oldest, most natural and simplest form of meditation in the world. It requires no affiliation with any spiritual or religious institution, and isn’t based on any creed or doctrine of ideas, and is universal to all cultures and beliefs of human nature. It requires no special methods or effort on the part of us, but involves one simple task: be aware of the breath. In fact, you can start breathing meditation this very second as you read this blog. If you would like to find out more about meditation, you can refer my next post, What is Meditation.
The human breath is what sets the natural rhythm for our entire lives. As long as we are alive, it will be happening whether we are aware of it or not. Because you don’t need to remember any special Mantras or specific methods, and you don’t need to find a quiet, calm spot to sit in silence(although it can help), breathing meditation can be done anytime, anywhere, in the midst of our everyday life. If you are sitting in traffic, or at work, attending a lecture in class, or practicing your favorite hobby, all of these give you the perfect conditions for breathing meditation. To understand more of the benefits of meditation, check here.
Why One Breath?
We can only experience life one breath at a time. By focusing on just this one breath, exactly where we are, right now, we can bridge the connection between our mind and body, and come to the feeling of our most innate human-nature, no matter where we are, or what challenges we face. If you find at the end of that one breath, you want to continue, GREAT! Become aware of the next breath, just this one breath which is the only moment you can truly live. You can become aware of these breaths for as long as you like, but the point isn’t to strive for 20, 30, 45, or 60 minutes of meditation; this is too daunting of a task for many beginners and even experienced meditators alike. Not only that, but this style of thinking is likely to take you AWAY from your awareness of this one moment, and has also been known to turn people off of meditation all together. Have you ever told yourself you couldn’t wait to start meditation, but then the actual thought of sitting there alone, eyes closed for any amount of time kind of just seemed…. Boring? You’re certainly not alone, and in some VERY good company. The best thing about One Breath Meditation is it can be done in 15 seconeds or less. Click Here for more on Breathing.
So am I against sitting for 30 or more minutes in meditation? Not at all, I do it myself almost every day. But I certainly didn’t decide one morning to meditate, and then begin this practice without waver until now. I practiced for years doing breathing, and walking meditation before I ever began sitting meditation. To be completely honest(I’m no purist here) the idea of just sitting WAS boring to me; it was only after I could come to let my energies/nerves(whatever you may call it) settle in that way did I come comfortable just sitting, and even now I still do more walking meditation and breathing meditation than sitting, though I have been sitting longer and longer in these last few weeks.
There are many cultures where meditation has become a pillar of their everyday lives, but it wasn’t as if the children would just know one day to sit and begin practice. Parents would teach their children to become aware of their breath as they were doing everyday chores and responsibilities, or bathing and eating and preparing for/rising from bed. They learn for years the fundamentals of a meditative mindset through observing their breath, and are much more prepared for sitting in long periods of thoughtless meditation.
On the other hand, many in the Western culture are very eager to begin meditation when they learn of the benefits and calming effects it can have, which is great, but much like jumping into a new work out can injure you, jumping into trying to sit for more than about 5 minutes a day can be very discouraging. Many are not really sure what to ‘do’ when they meditate, and their minds go everywhere. Soon they get restless, and crave some form of stimulation. They open their eyes, look at the clock, and only 3 minutes has gone by…. Sound familiar? This even still happens to me some days, 8+ years since first starting breathing meditation.
This is why I advocate One Breath Meditation for everyone, from beginners to advanced meditators alike. You can certainly keep observing your breaths as they come, but this is not the point; the point is to observe this breath, right now, exactly where you are. You can obviously infer that this will then lead to your next breath, but you aren’t there yet.
Take it as it comes. Be here now.