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5 Meditations on the Breath


From attending to sleep to fully waking up, working along with your breath presents sensible and profound advantages. Illustrations by Nolan Pelletier.

1. Mindfulness of Breath

Whereas there are numerous variations of this apply, this straightforward model is frequent to many Buddhist traditions and is a mainstay of the secular mindfulness motion. It’s a basis of the trail to enlightenment and presents rapid advantages to our well being, happiness, and well-being.

Sit cross-legged on a meditation cushion or on a straight-backed chair. The necessary factor is to be upright, grounded, and relaxed. Along with your eyes open, let your gaze relaxation comfortably as you look barely downward about six inches in entrance of you. Place your consideration repeatedly on every in-breath and out-breath, whereas additionally remaining conscious of the surroundings round you.

Gently word when you have got been distracted by ideas, with out criticizing your self, and return your consideration to the breath. On this apply, ideas will not be judged nearly as good or unhealthy. You merely acknowledge them and return to the breath.

 

2. Mixing Thoughts and Area

That is mindfulness of breath with a Vajrayana taste. It’s attributed to Gampopa, a founding father of the Kagyu lineage, and was the primary meditation apply taught within the West by Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. It combines mindfulness or focus with the open consciousness of such practices as Dzogchen and shikantaza.

Place your consideration on the out-breath as within the earlier apply. Let your consideration exit with the breath and dissolve into the area round you. Relaxation your thoughts in that open area or hole with out inserting your consideration on the in-breath.

Place your consideration once more on the subsequent out-breath, following it out and mixing your thoughts with area because it dissolves. Relaxation in that open consciousness. Proceed meditating on this method.

 

3. Tonglen

Tonglen, which suggests “taking and sending,” is a visualization apply utilizing the breath to broaden our compassion. It reverses the way in which ego normally operates. After we put ourselves first, we attempt to soak up what’s good for us and ship away what causes struggling. After we put others first, we do the alternative—we take of their struggling and ship out our happiness. That is the residing motion of bodhichitta—the enlightened coronary heart–thoughts of the buddhas—that’s cultivated in tonglen.

Taking our meditation posture, we start the apply with the in-breath, visualizing that we’re taking within the struggling of others as a thick, black, sizzling cloud. We could visualize this cloud hanging our coronary heart and destroying our selfishness. On the out-breath, we then visualize that we’re sending out all that’s good to others within the type of a white, cooling cloud that eases their concern and struggling.

As we proceed this visualization, we broaden our compassion from these near us, to these we’re detached to, to these we don’t like, and to all others. Pema Chödrön says this apply creates not solely compassion for others, however compassion for ourselves and a deep reference to all beings based mostly on our frequent expertise of struggling.

 

4. Cleaning Breath

This nine-breath apply from the Tibetan custom is designed to expel blocked or “stale” power (prana, chi). As a yogic apply, this will embrace visualizing the expulsion of prana with every breath, however on this simplified type it may be performed by any meditator. As a result of it relaxes the physique and opens up the respiratory system, it is a wonderful technique to start any meditation session.

Seated in your meditation posture, shut the left nostril along with your index finger and breathe slowly out and in by the suitable nostril thrice. On the final exhalation, expel as a lot air as you’ll be able to. Now shut the suitable nostril and breath thrice by the left nostril, once more ending with a forceful exhalation. Lastly, breathe thrice by each nostrils, doing a compete exhalation with every out-breath. Return to regular respiratory, feeling open and relaxed.

 

5. The 4-7-8 Breath

Also referred to as the Weil Method, for its advocate Dr. Andrew Weil, this straightforward yogic breath apply can be utilized to domesticate calm restfulness in any state of affairs, however is particularly prized as a method that will help you fall to sleep.

In a restful place—this can be in mattress, however doesn’t must be—place the tip of your tongue simply behind your entrance tooth. Inhale, then set free the breath with an audible, whooshing sound. Inhale once more whereas internally counting to 4. Subsequent, maintain the breath for a rely to seven. Then, exhale once more, utilizing the identical audible breath, for a rely of eight. Repeat the cycle as you would like.

Weil notes that whereas the approach will be extremely efficient, one needs to be affected person and per it, as it might take as much as two months to develop as a dependable sleep assist.

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