Eastern wisdom highlights the power of breathing for physical and emotional well being. Eastern martial arts masters focus on abdominal breathing as a way to focus energy in the lower adominal region known variously as the tanden or hara. Many forms of meditation focus on the breath. Some traditions encourage the practitioner to manipulate the breath in some way. Other traditions simply ask the meditator to “be with” the breath.
With the frenetic pace and chaos of modern life, more and more people are turning to meditation in an effort to bring more peace and tranquility into their lives. In my work as a chaplain and a career coach, I frequently teach hospice volunteers and career clients a very simple form of breath meditation. It does not require any special posture. They may choose to use a round cushion, a bench or a chair.
Space does not allow for comprehensive discussion, but here are a few basic points to keep in mind:
- Select a place in your home where you will be undisturbed.
- Select a time where you can spend at least 10 minutes alone. You may choose early morning before you begin your daily routine, or in the evening after dinner or before bedtime. Try to maintain a consistent schedule.
- Use a timer of some sort so you will not have to look at your watch or clock.
- Sit erect yet relaxed; tuck your chin in and lengthen the back; let your eyes fall naturally toward the floor or a wall at a 45 degree angle.
- Place your hands, palm down, on your thighs.
- Place your attention on a space about three fingers below your navel; picture a balloon within your lower abdomen.
- With each inhalation, allow the balloon to fill with air; with each exhalation, allow the balloon to deflate.
- Concentrate completely on your breath.
- Whenever you notice a thought or feeling has captured your attention, let it go and bring yourself back to your breath, your posture, the present moment.
I’d like you to conduct a two month experiment. Try this simple practice for 60 days. Try to meditate at least 5 days each week. Important note: Do not expect to “gain” anything from this simple practice. Just do it!
At the end of your experiment, email me and give me your reactions.