This is a meditation exercise which covers:
- The basis of the working of the mind
- The use of a subject on which to meditate
- A tool for mind training
There are some 40 techniques of concentration training. This book will deal with one of these namely, the mindfulness of breathing.
The development of concentration by mindfulness of breathing
(breathing in and breathing out)
This technique is a very convenient practice because by nature everybody has to breathe in and out. It can be used all the time and anywhere when it is needed as long as one is constantly aware of the process.
Basic Exercise in brief
- Setting Try to find a quiet place which is conducive to peace. It is helpful to have the right atmosphere but if this is not possible, it can still be performed.
- Posture Find any posture which enables the body to relax and which is the most comfortable for a long sitting. It helps if you breathe easily. The best posture is cross-legged or sitting upright with the right foot on top of the left one and hands on the lap, right one on top of the left with thumbs touching, or the right forefinger touching the left thumb. If this is not possible one can sit upright on a chair or take any other comfortable posture. However, if the sitting brings any tension, the practice will not be right and it should be corrected before continuing. Eyes can be closed or opened as long as one is not distracted. If opened, one should lower one’s gaze, perhaps fixing it on the tip of the nose.
- Breathing Exercise After sitting comfortably, one should take deep long breaths to fill the lungs and then breathe out slowly several times. At the same time try to develop the feeling that the body is not solid and the head is light until the mind is reasonably peaceful, then breathe normally but with awareness of the in and out breathing. When breathing in and out deeply, be aware that one breathes in and out deeply, when breathing in and out shallowly, know that one breathes in and out shallowly. Do not control the breaths but be mindful of them. For a beginner counting the breath will help to control the mind and stop wandering thoughts. If the mind is very restless, start with counting the breathing in pairs. In-out-1, in-out-2, … , up to 10, and then reverse the process – In-out- 10, in-out-9, … , down to 1. Or try to fix the attention at where the breath touches – the tip of the nose or the upper lip – without following the movement of the breath through the body. However, be aware of the in and out breathing.