Let us consider a popular meditation that uses breathing as its object of concentration. Normally we are not conscious that we are breathing, but here we will have to know it. The idea is to know and feel the breathing continuously, as it is happening. Your success is defined by how continuously you are able to maintain the attention.
Even if you have never attempted to meditate, you can try now. Just sit comfortably in anyway you like, close your eyes, and focus your attention on the act of breathing. If you like, take a few deep breaths and then let go of your efforts and allow it to happen naturally.
Why meditate on breathing?
Breathing is the only process of the body that can go on autonomously or you can take conscious control of it. It is also directly connected to your emotions, so you are monitoring your mental state by monitoring the breathing. It is, in fact, a bridge that connects your conscious and subconscious minds. Whenever any emotional state arises from the subconscious you can know it through changes in the breathing. So, meditating on breathing (or merely watching the breaths) can reveal a lot about you.
The basic requirement is to become aware of the breathing. Being aware means being attentive, alert, or conscious about the process of breathing. It is the foremost requirement.
So, feel the in-breaths and the out-breaths very attentively. Initially you may not be very clear about the breaths but after a short while, you will be able to feel the breaths. As time passes, the clarity of perception will increase.
Now you will be able to notice that the mind does not stay at the breathing for long – it wonders away. You bring it back to the breathing but it again goes away. This will keep happening, but your task is to bring it back to the breathing without feeling defeated or irritated.
This is the only effort you are supposed to make!
And inability to keep your attention on the object (breathing here) is the only problem you have to solve!
One breath meditation
To solve this problem, consider this tip – concentrate fully on one breath at a time. The idea is to approach your meditation breath by breath; just one single breath at a time. So, pay full attention to one complete breath at a time, then the next single complete breath, and the next… and so on.
This takes the burden off the mind that you have to concentrate for a long time, and you are able advance easier – meditating on one breath at a time. Further, remember that it is your awareness that binds you with the ongoing breathing. The moment this awareness weakens, mind goes its way.