The most common method of mediation is the breath meditation, sometimes also called the breath awareness meditation or the mindful meditation. In this blog post, I will explore with you on why it is one of the most popular, if not the most popular, way to meditate. I will also talk about why it works and something interesting facts about the relationship between meditation and breathing. Let’s dive in now.
How to Use Breathing for Your Meditation
Using your breath to meditate is actually very simple. Notice that I didn’t say “easy”, but I said simple. To practice breath meditation, you should start with finding a quiet place to sit down and have your eyes closed. You should sit in a relaxed position. Some people like to sit on the floor with their legs crossed. I like to sit on a chair or on my sofa as I think it feels more natural and more comfortable, which I know a lot of people feel this way too. Now, here comes the breathing part. With your eyes close, you put all your attention to the breathing in and breathing out motion of your breath. Breath in…breath out…in…out. That’s the only thing that you want your mind to do. However, you can’t be that focused for over a few minutes. You would see some thoughts come into your mind. Instead of interpreting these thoughts, you should simply just know the existence of the thoughts and let them pass by. Remember what you main goal is to let your mind rest so that your mind becomes clear. The meditation process is done after 10 minutes or more. The optimal length for average people should be somewhere between 10 minutes and 30 minutes.
Observing the Breath is the Small Task Assigned to Mind
As you may already know, there are other popular methods for meditation. Mantra meditation is a very popular method of meditation. When doing such meditation, you would make your mind repeatedly read a mantra. Both mantra meditation and breath meditation actually are very similar. In fact, all form of meditations should used the same big idea. The big idea is to assign something easy for your mind to do so it doesn’t have to intensely think about something else. Since we can’t really make our mind stop, the best that we can do to make it rest is to make it work on something very simple. For example, observing the breathing in and breathing out actions and repeating a mantra are both very simple and easy task.
Breathing is Natural
Some people would consider breath meditation as the default method of meditation. That’s because breathing is something natural, especially when you compare to reading a mantra or playing around with other meditation tools like using a meditation bowl. Also, it seems like a handy tool to calm yourself down if you are used to instantly put all your focus on your breathing. Imagine if you gain the ability to immediately put all your focus on your breath when you are in a non-sense and angry meeting. I am pretty sure that the resulted relaxed and calm mind would allow you to perform better, or at least feel better.
Simple but Not Easy
I have talked about how you can do a breath meditation a little earlier. I emphasized that the part about observing your breathing in and breathing out actions is something very simple but not easy. The difficult part is that you are supposed to be just observing, without changing the pace of your breathing. That may sound simple but I have to honestly tell you that I can’t always to that properly. There are lot of times when I try to hard to focus on my breath that my breath becomes very heavy and too intense. In other words, I am changing breath and that’s not what I am supposed to do. When done right though, meditation is very natural and very effective in getting my mind clear.
What You Should Do If You Have a Hard Time Observing Your Breath Without Change It
If you are like me who cannot breath smoothly and naturally when practicing breath meditation, what should you do? The answer is indeed very simple. Just use another meditation method that works for you. For me, I find it much easy to do mantra meditation. I find that it is easier to force my mind to repeatedly read a mantra in my mind than to focus on my breath without actually changing my breath. But what works for you can be very different from what works for me. Try guided meditation, mantra meditation or other forms of meditations to see what works for you.
How Do I Know My Meditation Works? Clue #1: The Half-Asleep State
Whether your final choice is to use breath meditation, mantra meditation, guided meditation or other kinds of meditation, you still have to find out whether it works for you or you are just simply having your eyes closed, not really resting your mind. There are some clues that kind of let you know if you are doing meditation right. The first clue is that you would find yourself somewhere between conscious and unconscious, what I call the half-asleep state. That’s the state when you have thoughts flowing into your conscious mind from your subconscious mind. It is kind of like dreaming but you are not actually sleeping. You can still be able to catch yourself not observing your breath when these thoughts come in. There is no way you can catch yourself like this when you are actually sleeping.
Clue #2: The Super Clear and Calm Mind
The single most important goal of having meditation is to clear the mind. Even for those of you who have a busy life, you should know what a clear mind looks like. That’s the mind that can think calmly and can see things in a more realistic way. So, if you seem to have a clear mind after meditation, there is a good chance that you are doing your meditation right.