Meditation on the breath

When we bring our mind to focus on the breath we can just watch the natural rhythms - easier said than done.  The very act of watching the breath will affect it.  We become a bit “self-conscious” and can even feel that our breathing gets a bit out of control. This is often temporary and with practice this stage passes and then we find it a useful and effective meditation aid.  One of the best.

Quite simply you can just observe the flow of the breath.  You can focus on the breath in the nostrils or the throat or wherever you feel it’s movement in your body. I tend to establish a particular breathing pattern and then stay with that for the meditation. This has developed from my practice of The Grand Yoga Breath (Mahat yoga pranayama) which is an excellent system.

Counting as we breathe is a commonly used method in yoga breathing (pranayama) practice.  Again, at first this can be a bit tricky, but once established it is very effective.

If this proves to be a comfortable method you can then observe and extend the pauses between the breaths (see below).  It is important to develop each stage before moving on.  The pauses should feel effortless with a quality of lightness and space.

Start by practicing for a few minutes and then develop.  You may find that you focus on the breath at the beginning of your meditation session and then relax the breath and continue your meditation enjoying the stillness and peace.

Counting the breath

Having established a rhythmic breath, with the in and the out breath the same length, you can then start counting as you breathe.  For example as you breathe in you can count up to 6 and the same when you breathe out.  You choose a count that is comfortable (in pranayama practice each count is a little bit less than a second). If you find it comfortable to pause between the breaths, you can include these pauses in the counting.

For example

In-breath             pause            out-breath            pause

6                          3                    6                           3

8                          4                    8                           4

These are guidelines - the ratios you develop come from your own observations of what is comfortable and what works for you.

As you come out of the meditation you relax your breathing and remain still for a while.



Yoga and well-being with Lesley Doveton