Today we ask that you consider how simple and valuable a meditative breath practice is.
Meditative breathing costs you nothing. It can be done anywhere, at any time. You do not need to be in a special place to do it. You do not need to sit in a special position. You do not need a guru to teach you how to do it. You do not need special training.
All you need to do is consciously breathe.
By consciously breathe, we mean to pay attention to the process of inhaling and exhaling air into and out of your lungs. This is going on all the time, so long as you are alive in a physical body. But usually, you do not pay attention to it.
So: just start paying attention to your breath. Pay attention to the inhale. Pay attention to the exhale. And pay attention to the spaces in between — particularly the empty space between the exhale of the out breath, and the inhale of the in breath, when the body is very still.
As you breathe, you can label the inhale “in,” and you can label the exhale “out.”
If you do this simple breath awareness practice, you are “meditating.” It is the essence of any meditative practice.
Good times to engage in breath awareness include when you are performing simple tasks, like doing the dishes, or vacuuming, or cleaning. It is good to do while you are taking a shower. It is good to do outdoors, when you are walking a dog, or gardening. It is very good to do whenever you take a break from work. It is good to take ten slow, deep, conscious breaths before you commence any mental task.
What this does, over time, is increase the amount of space, and stillness, in your daily life. When you are consciously breathing, your thinking mind is at rest. Out of this stillness, a deep sense of well-being can arise.
It may not be immediate. It may take some time to be felt. But a regular practice of conscious, meditative breathing will, over time, lead to a greater sense of peace and calm in your daily life.
It costs you nothing, and can be done anywhere. All that it requires is a conscious commitment to doing it. The thinking mind has a tendency to want to break into the meditative breathing space, and stop you from doing it. Notice this pattern.
Isn’t it interesting, how challenging it is to do something as simple as staying conscious of your breath?