Basic Breath Meditation
What is it?
The cornerstone of all meditation techniques, this practice centers on something we always do but rarely notice: breathing. “You do not have to do anything with your breath but observe it,” says yoga and meditation teacher Rosen. Eventually, you can work on changing your breath, and sending it into new areas of your torso. But at first, just become aware of each inhalation and exhalation; let your mind track how the breath moves, mapping where it goes to develop an understanding of your own unique “breathing identity.”
What’s it good for?
Use this meditation to get centered anytime and anywhere. “You can retreat into your breath whenever you’re feeling dull, tired or stressed out,” says Rosen.
How long does it take?
Start with 10 minutes at first, then work your way up to 15 and finally 20 minutes.
How do I do it?
1. Sit in a comfortable position with your legs crossed. Or lie on your back with your body straight and a firm pillow or rolled-up towel under your knees. Your arms should rest about 45 degrees from your torso.
2. Breathe quietly in and out through your nose. Feel each breath as it moves through your torso. Feel where in your body the breath is moving and where it is not.
3. Begin to notice how your breath changes as you focus on it, and how your awareness changes in turn. (Rosen likens this process to a feedback loop between the breath and “the witness,” who’s observing it.)
4. When your mind begins to drift, gently bring it back to your breath.
5. Begin to bring your breath into areas of your body that feel dull or “un-breathed.” Imagine your torso as a container, and try actively sending breath into the places it’s not reaching, such as your pelvis or the small of your back. Don’t force the breath, just allow it to follow your consciousness.
6. At the end of your session, wiggle your fingers and toes, then stretch your legs and arms. If you’re lying down, roll over to one side and pause before pushing up to a seated position. Roll up slowly, leading with your torso and raising your head last.