The research and anecdotal evidence is all around us – meditation is a practice that can benefit so many areas of our lives. But unfortunately, meditation is hard. How counter intuitive right? You just have to sit and clear your mind. Some days are easier than others, but when we are inside our minds, it can be hard to find peace.
Samatha meditation is a common form of sitting meditation based on breath attention. By focusing on your breath, you can begin to calm the mind. Superficially, the breath doesn’t seem like much to focus on and as a result, the mind can begin to wonder. In actuality, the breath is really quite elaborate. It’s the tide of our life and bringing our attention to the intricacies that make up our inhales and exhales has the potential to actually ground our practice and clear our mind.
When focusing on just the inhale and exhale seems like not enough, try the following techniques to tap into our ethereal breath:
Visualize Your Breath
Think of your torso as a vessel and visualize the breath moving up and down this container. Maybe your breath is a beautiful color, or a soft light moving from the bases of your pelvis up to the rim of your chest on inhale. Watch this beautiful color or light as it moves down from the rim of your chest down into your pelvis as you exhale.
Feel Your Breath
Breath causes movement within your body. Can you feel every articulation of this movement? Can you feel the shoulder blades actually splay out as you fill your vessel with breath? Can you feel the collar bones lift just a little at the top of the inhale? Can you feel every fiber move as the breath moves down your body during exhalation? Can you feel your navel come in towards your spine at the bottom of the exhale?
Breath From The Inside Out
Try to visualize your breath happening in your deepest core – your bones. Picture your frame, your actual bones breathing in and out. Then visualize this breath moving to your muscles and tissues. Picture your flesh breathing with your bones. Finally, picture your skin, your outer layer to the world breathing with your bones and your muscles. Feel the breath literally from the inside out.
Pause Your Breath (Kumbhaka)
Just for a moment as you transition from you inhale to your exhale. And then again as you transition from exhale to inhale. Can you find stillness in this pause? Can you let the stillness envelop you and then let the weight of that stillness ground you?
Equal Part Breathing (Sama Vritti Pranayama)
This is the practice of equalizing the length of each inhale-pause-exhale-pause. For example, you would inhale for a count of 4, pause for a count of 4, exhale for count of 4 and then pause for a count of 4.
Using A Mantra
The journey within is personal, so choose a word or words that resonate with your practice. One of the easiest mantras I use is ‘Be Here’. I inhale with the word ‘Be’ and exhale with the word ‘Here’.
Breath Into The Corners Of Your Body
Visualize your breath reaching the farthest regions of your body – the ends of your fingers and toes. Feel each inhale radiate from your heart center to the far corners of your body. Feel each exhale start from your farthest regions, the edge of your skin, the ends of the fingers and toes all the way back to your heart center.
Meditation is hard so be kind to yourself as you recognize it is a process. May these simple ideas resonate with your practice and bring peace and calm to your mind.
Meditate & be well.