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Meditation with the Breath

Meditation with the Breath

1. Take a posture that you can hold comfortably. Seated in this posture,
awake and alert, take four deep, slow breaths. Notice that you are in
control of your breath at this point. Realize this as you settle into

2. Become aware of your breathing. No matter what you think of it, no matter
what judgments you have about it, do not try to control it. Just be aware of

3. Continue to settle into your breath. At the same time, let go of it. Allow
the breath to dance its dance. Try not to criticize, or identify with it.
Perhaps you noticed that your breath, when you first began, came in short
bursts. Now it seems to be settling down into a longer, more fluid,
undulating movement. That is the wisdom of your breath. It knows what it is
doing. There is no need to worry about it. Your breath is wise. It knows
where it is going, how quickly and how slowly. It will, of its own accord,
settle into whatever pace, rhythm, exhalation, and inhalation that is right.

4. Become aware of the pauses, the gaps between the exhalations and
inhalations - one at the end of each exhalation and one at the end of each
inhalation. These are called stillpoints.

5. Become a neutral observer of these stillpoints as the breath ebbs and
flows, moving of its own accord. It's an endless sea of life. You are the
shore, caressed by this ceaseless tide. Observe each moment of breath with
calm awareness. There is nothing to do, nothing to be, nowhere to go. Sit
like this for several minutes.

6. Now, bring your attention to the contact point, the place where you feel
the stillpoints meet. It may be just inside the rim of your nostrils, perhaps
directly under them. Or it could be in your chest or abdomen. Watch the
breath as it effortlessly glides over your stillpoint.

7. Make your stillpoint an observation tower, the place to watch your breath.
Watch the inhalation as air flows in. Notice the moment of stillness, the
moment between inhalation and exhalation. Watch the exhalation as air

8. When thoughts arise, simply notice them without the need to do anything
about them. Try not to get emotionally involved with the thoughts or take a
ride with them. Just receive them as thought. Keep the awareness on the

9. Now flood the breath with peaceful awareness. Do not make any value
judgments, just continue to watch your contact point. A long breath is not
worth more than a short one. Both are both the same - breathing.

10. Now, move your focus of concentration to the diaphragm. Watch as it
undulates with the rise and fall of the breath.

1. Move slowly outside your body. Can you see where your exhalation ends? Is
it two feet away? Three? Now watch the inhalation. How far into your body
does it go? To your very center?

12. For the nest few minutes, watch the breath wherever it is most pronounced
in your body. It may be your nostrils, your diaphragm, chest, or abdomen. Or
it may fluctuate. Don't think about the movement. Just let it be. Thoughts
come and go and they don't have to be named, conceptualized, or held onto.

13. Continue to watch your breath. Whenever thoughts, feelings, or sensations
appear, note them, let them go, and return to your breath. Meditation teacher
Sharon Salzberg says, "This act of beginning again is the essential art of
meditation practice. Over and over... we begin again."

14. Now, slowly, gently, open your eyes. Take an inventory of how you are
feeling, right at this moment. As you move onto your next activity, try to
bring this quality of calm awareness to it. And to the next, and the next.


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