The breath is a classic focus for meditation, for several reasons.
- Breathing is sensuous, rhythmic, and always with us, as long as we are alive.
- Breath is a gift to us from the larger universe; it comes inside our body, into our lungs, into our blood, then into every cell.
- Breathing is an intimate exchange with the entire cosmos in which we live and move and have our being.
When you pay close attention to your breathing, you can perceive all this directly. Your breath is intrinsically full of grace.
There are hundreds of ways to pay attention to breath.
- You can be aware of its rhythm, of how it expands and contracts, of how it weaves from outside your body to being drawn inside.
- You can visualize the breath, being aware of the tip of your nose, the quiet sounds of your breathing, the soft feeling in your throat, the pause at the end of the inhalation, and so on.
- You can focus through your sense of touch, movement, hearing, smell, or vision. You can use breath to withdraw from the world or to engage with it.
When you meditate with your breathing, allow your eyes to be open or closed.
Whatever happens spontaneously, you’ll learn to rest in the presence of breath, and your eyes will tend to close by themselves… but don’t force them shut.
If you take this gentle approach, even the simple act of closing the eyes can feel rich. Your thoughts will drift off and then return to your focus.
This is natural. Just keep coming back to your chosen pleasure. Keep in mind that you can sit anywhere and in any position that you find comfortable.
Over time you will develop more and more sensory awareness of what breath is. And as you do, it will become more and more engaging.
Drop the phrase “trying to concentrate on my breathing” from your vocabulary, and replace it with “I am developing an interest in breathing.”
Use your senses to welcome each inhalation. As you become more aware of your breath, extraordinary realms of sensation begin to open up.
You may even discover that you are an unlimited being.