Meditation is a journey from gross to subtle. Here the words “gross” and “subtle” relate to your sense of perception. You would like to be able to perceive subtler realities as you advance in your practice.
You can be mindful towards breathing in various ways. The act of breathing is not just air going in and out of body; it is a process that can be felt and observed in many ways. Let us examine how a beginner can start meditating on his breathing. To meditate, sit comfortably the way you like – it is not important for you to sit in any particular posture; just sit comfortably wherever you like and close your eyes.
1. Concentrating at abdominal movements
Try to keep your attention at your belly – it will be rising and falling as you breath in and out. If you can’t feel it open your eyes, you will notice the movement there. If you like place your hand there. Again close your eyes and concentrate there. Even if you can’t feel anything just keep trying.
After a while the abdominal movements will become clear. Try to distinguish clearly between the rising, an upward movement and falling, a downward movement. Try not to think or analyze, just pay full attention to the rising and falling.
Avoid making your breathing deeper or faster in order to feel the movements clearly. But allow the breathing to go on its own – naturally. Try to exclude everything else from the mind – try feeling only the rising and falling of the belly. This is a great activity for relaxing. Practice only for about half an hour and feel the difference.
2. Concentrating at the Nose tip
This is somewhat subtler than observing the rise and fall of the belly. Keep the body still and try to maintain awareness of breath going into the nostrils and coming out of it. As you begin, the awareness may not be very clear but within a short time you will be able to concentrate around the nose tip.
Try to clearly distinguish between the in and out breaths. You may be tempted to change the breathing so that you can feel it clearly at the nose tip. But there is no need to do that.
The key to success in meditation is patience. Impatience makes your mind restless and distracts attention from breathing. So intensify your efforts whenever that happens. Very soon impatience will go away and you will be more concentrated on breathing.
Benefits of Meditation
By nature the practice of meditation discourages the habit of thinking. Whenever the mind is one-pointed, distracting thoughts subside; it leads to a sense of relaxation, inner peace and oneness. Your mind will be pretty clear and calm. You should learn to stay with this peace of mind and compare it with your so-called normal state of mind.
The calmness of mind also generates an inner happiness and contentment. This prepares you to better withstand the stress and pressures of daily activities.