A Meditation Practice Based on Anapanasati (Awareness of the Breath)

  • Set a timer for the length of time you wish to meditate.
  • Sit in a chair with your back straight or on a cushion on the floor. Place your hands in chin mudra.
  • Take a deep breath through your nostrils and exhale with a big, loud sigh. Do this 3 times. This relaxes you and starts to move your attention into the present moment.
  • Get in touch with your purpose for your meditation. You may want to cultivate a spiritual quality. Here is a partial list of spiritual qualities:
    • compassion
    • loving-kindness
    • finding happiness in others good fortune (sympathetic-joy).
    • equanimity
    • generosity
    • patience
    • honesty
    • ease
    • humility
    • inner-peace
    • diligence
    • acceptance
    • awe
    • contentment
  • Then dedicate your practice. I say the following dedication, “I dedicate this practice to the happiness, growth, and freedom of all living beings.”
  • Eyes open or closed?
    • I recommend doing the meditation with your eyes open if you are sleepy.
    • Do it with your eyes closed if you are anxious.

Then begin the awareness of the breath meditation (anapanasati)

  • The placing of attention:
    • Beginning Practice: Place your attention on the rising and falling of your chest or abdomen.
    • Intermediate Practice: Look for the gaps between the breaths.
    • Advanced Practice: Place your attention on the tip of your nose. Notice the sensation of your breath as it goes in and out of your nostrils. Notice how the inhale feels different on the nostrils from the exhale. Look for the gaps between the breaths.
  • Counting:
    • Beginning Practice: Count your inhalations from 1 to 10 and back down to 1 and back up again, etc. If you suddenly become aware that you have counted to 17, that’s fine. Gently bring your attention back to the breath and start counting at 1 again.
    • Advanced Practice: Once you can count up and down a few times without getting lost, stop counting and just notice your breath. When you notice that your mind has wandered, gently bring your attention back to the breath.

When the timer goes off:

  • Express your gratitude by saying,”I am thankful for your teachers, the teachings and the opportunity to practice.”
  • Give a small bow
  • Reorient yourself to the room by looking around and noticing the sounds and the smells.

©2017 Stephen L. Martin

Photo: Bhikkhu at Mahamevnawa Buddhist Monastery, Polpitigama Sri Lanka; photo in the public domain

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