Mindful Breathing (Buddhist meditation for beginners)

Mindful Breathing (Buddhist meditation for beginners)

Buddhists use mindfulness to maintain a conscious awareness of the processes of the mind.


One of the most important meditation techniques for beginners is Buddhist mindfulness meditation. This helps the mind to stay in the moment. And it will help you focus. Plus, it’s an excellent way of removing stress and focusing on your goals.


When we practice mindfulness, we observe the present moment in a non-judgmental fashion. In the book “Mindfulness For Dummies”, Shamash Alidina says, “In mindfulness, acceptance always comes first, change comes after.”


According to the Buddhist tradition, the two core components of mindfulness are Sati (mindfulness itself) and Satipatthana (Establishment of Mindfulness). Buddha explains in the Pali Satipatthana Sutta that the four foundations of mindfulness are:

mindfulness of body
being mindful of feelings (vedana)
mindfulness of mind (citta)
being mindful of phenomena (dhammas).


      Try it out! 


      1. Sit cross-legged on the floor if you can do so comfortably. Otherwise, kneel or use a chair. Sit with a straight but relaxed spine. Slightly lower your chin to elongate your neck. Place the tip of your tongue lightly against your hard palate.


      2. Begin to focus on your breathing. Observe the passage of your breath in through your nose, down to your diaphragm, and out through your mouth or nose. The purpose of breathing meditations (in Buddhism at least) is to create what Buddha called “equanimity”. In other words, mental calmness. So, notice as your mind gradually becomes calmer.


      3. When you reach the end of an exhale, allow the next breath to come naturally without being forced.


      4. Observe the entirety of your breath. In the Anapanasati Sutta [1], Buddha said, “He trains himself, ‘I will breathe in sensitive to the entire body. ‘ He trains himself, ‘I will breathe out sensitive to the entire body.” So, when you practise breathing meditations, be conscious of your entire body.


      5. Inevitably you will experience thoughts and feelings. Simply observe these thoughts and feelings coming and going. You might like to label them, “Thought” and “Feeling”. In Buddhist meditation, breathing acts as an anchor. We focus on the breath to stop the mind from wandering. Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh said, “Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.” Let your breath anchor you in the present moment. 


      6. Continue for twenty minutes.
      According to research from Harvard Medical School, mindful breathing exercise like this reduce amygdala activity, balance cortisol, reduce sympathetic nervous system activity, and promote activity of the parasympathetic nervous system. All of this produces.

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