Meditation Solutions Using Breath
Paying attention to the breath is a great way to anchor yourself in the present moment.
Notice your breath streaming in and out. There’s no need to regulate the breath – just let it be natural.
Counting as you breathe
If you are having difficulties settling, you can try counting the breath – which is an ancient meditation practice.
On your outbreath, silently count “one”, then “two”, and up to “four”. Then return to “one”.
Whenever you notice your thoughts have strayed far away or you find yourself counting “thirtythree”, simply return to “one”. In this way, “one” is like coming home to the present moment.
It’s good to return without a backward glance.
When you notice thoughts, gently let them go by returning yous focus to the breath. Don’t try and stop thoughts; this will just make you feel agitated.
Imagine that they are unwelcome visitors at your door: acknowledge their presence and politely ask them to leave.
Then shine the soft light of your attention on your breath.
It’s difficult to settle into meditation if you are struggling with strong emotions. This is because some emotions tend to breed stories in the mind. Especially anger, shame and fear create stories that repeat over and over in the mind.
Anger and shame make us keep looking at past events of the past. Fear looks at the future with stories that start with, “What if…”. Love and trust looks at the future and says, “I can….”
The way to deal with strong emotions in meditation is to focus on the body feelings that accompany the emotion.
For example, this could be the tight band of fear around the chest or the hot roiling of anger in the belly. Let go of the stories and refocus on your body.
In this way you are honouring your emotions but not becoming entangled in stories.
Silence is healing. I know that there are is a lot of ‘meditation music’ around, but nothing beats simple silence.
Otherwise the music or sounds on the tape just drown out the chatter in your mind.
When we sit in silence we actually get to experience what our mind is doing.
There is steadiness and calmness that comes from sitting in silence. In time outer and inner silence meet and you come to rest in the moment.
Start with 10 minutes and only sit longer if you feel that that is too short. Don’t force yourself to meditate longer if you are not ready to do that.
In time you might like to extend your meditation to 25 or 30minutes. That’s a length that allows you to settle your mind without causing too much stress on your body.
Most importantly, shrug off any ‘shoulds’. Some people enjoy sitting for an hour at a time. Others find that they can’t sit longer than 10 minutes. Do what feels right for you!
It’s lovely to create a special place to sit.
You can even make a kind of shrine or a prayer altar that you can face when you sit in meditation.
You might like to place a candle on your altar and objects that have meaning to you. It’s lovely to find objects for your altar as you walk, such as seashells, stones or wildflowers.
Most of all it’s important to enjoy meditation. You might like to try sitting with a hint of a smile. Be kind to yourself.
Start sitting to meditate just a little each day. It’s essential to establish a daily habit.