Sitting with Breath


Spiritualpractice 57

Also known as “breathing meditation,” it is perhaps the simplest and most elementary form of meditation. Most introductions to meditation start here. It’s all about awareness, mindfulness. We pay attention to our breath, and to nothing else. Every time we become distracted, we return to our breath. Some exercises suggest that we count from ten backwards with every breath. Others suggest that we pay attention to the air passing in and out of our nostrils. Still other techniques propose a mantra on the in-breath and another on the out-breath. Something like: (in) “I breathe in God”; (out) “I breathe out my tension (worries, anxiety…)” Some propose that, as we engage in breathing, we pay attention to our body, how it feels, where the tensions are, and that we let those tensions go. While some practices recommend that we breathe normally, others propose that we take deep breaths from our diaphragm and let all our air out. Find the approach that works best for you, remembering that, in all cases, the purpose is to still ourselves so that we are available to the Divine. Breathing meditation can also be performed while walking, pacing our steps with our breath. One can combine a breathing meditation with the Jesus Prayer for instance. The best practice remains paying attention to our breath whenever we start losing our focus in any form of meditation.