Today I’d like to introduce an easy breathing meditation technique. In meditation, first of all, our objective is to stop all thought. It would be nice if we could flick a switch and just turn off all thought, but it can be pretty difficult to do, especially in the beginning. So, one technique is to focus on one thing to the exclusion of everything else. If you focus on one thing intensely, you push all the other thoughts out of your mind. In this exercise, all we’re going to focus on is the inhalation and exhalation of our breath. OK, maybe two things, we’re also going to count (or is that three things?).
Sit up with your back straight. You can sit in a chair, or on a cushion on the floor, whatever feels most comfortable to you, just as long as your spine is very straight. Close your eyes, and breathe in slowly while counting up to 3 (1-2-3 in equal beats), then hold your breath for a beat, then exhale while counting to 3 again, hold for a beat and repeat. So, you are taking slow breaths in, and exhaling slow breaths out. But the counting is the most important part, because we want to focus on taking measured breaths.
When you’re counting, it is very hard to be thinking about other things, because if you do, you’ll find you start to lose count. Also, when you are focused on your breathing, your breath is such a vital part of living, that your whole body gets involved, so, this technique captures your complete attention very easily. Do this technique for 10-15 minutes. If you feel light-headed at any point, then you can stop, or just resume your normal breathing for a few minutes… there aren’t any penalties if you don’t do it perfectly!
I like this technique because you can do it anywhere; on the bus, at the DMV, sitting in the waiting room for a job interview. It’s OK to keep your eyes open if you don’t want to let on what you’re doing. If you do it when you are nervous, it can really help to calm you down, as one of the first things that happens when we get nervous is that our breathing becomes fast and irregular. Slowing it down and making it perfectly regular helps to calm our nerves and make our mind clear. So, you can do better on that audition!
There are many many other breathing meditations, in fact, there is a whole branch of yoga devoted to breathing exercises called Kriya Yoga. But this was just a simple breathing exercise to get you started in meditation.