Meditation and Breathing – Suggestions for Beginners

Years in the past, throughout a tough patch in life, I began seeing a behavioral psychologist to cope with some nervousness points and insomnia. Part of his periods typically consisted of a guided meditation, the place he would converse to me in mild tones whereas I lay on the couch, respiratory deeply. The meditations have been most likely a superb 20 minutes or so, and frankly, I puzzled if maybe these periods have been only a means for my therapist to get a break from listening to my life nonsense, however I discovered them very enjoyable and left afterwards feeling calm and refreshed, two emotions that did not come naturally to me.

After one session, my therapist complimented me on my respiratory. He famous that I might sluggish my breath down and take very lengthy, deep breaths that helped me attain a distinct state. Higher consciousness? Maybe. Calm and relaxed? Definitely, no less than throughout and for a bit after the meditation. He requested if I had discovered this someplace. I instructed him concerning the years I had spent taking Kundalini Yoga from a distinguished LA instructor. It wasn’t day by day coaching, only a class or two every week with a bunch of different college students in a studio or within the teacher’s front room.

“Breath of Fire” (very speedy in and out breath via the nostril and managed by the diaphragm) and methods that included filling your lungs with as a lot air as doable (or blowing ALL the air out of your lungs and maintaining them empty – all the time a lot tougher), and then doing yoga whereas holding the air in or out is the form of coaching that may enhance respiratory method. There have been additionally gong meditations, mendacity in your again, eyes closed, and respiratory deeply whereas the teacher bangs on a big gong, which you hear in addition to really feel (sound waves) for the length of the meditation.

My therapist then instructed, that as a therapeutic massage therapist and therapeutic massage remedy teacher, I may also train folks how one can breathe. So, with that in thoughts, listed below are a couple of ideas for these of you who wish to incorporate a meditation apply into your life to reap its confirmed optimistic advantages, together with:

· When to meditate and how typically

· Creating a superb mediation atmosphere

· What you have to meditate

· Mantra or no mantra?

· Deep respiratory methods

· Clearing the thoughts (what to consider… or not)

· Benefits of Mediation

· “Mindfulness.” What does it actually imply?


Did that the Buddha sat beneath the Bodhi tree (ficus religiosa in Latin, which seems like a Hermoine spell from Harry Potter) with the intention of remaining there till he achieved enlightenment? How lengthy he truly sat is just not fully clear, however might have been weeks. Without meals.

Good information: you do not want to try this.

Start small. Most individuals who meditate “religiously” (it’s religious, typically, however not essentially spiritual, though even the Big Three religions confer with silent or private prayer as “meditation”) accomplish that within the morning upon waking (and some do, in actual fact, rise up at 4:30 for “sadna,” a pre-daybreak meditation practiced by some Sikhs, when the religious power is meant to b particularly robust), and then once more within the late afternoon or early night (earlier than or after dinner is nice).

Deep respiratory earlier than mattress is an efficient technique to chill out, however a full meditation proper earlier than mattress is just not advisable as a result of which may trick your physique and mind into pondering you’ve got slept sufficient already. And whereas early morning meditation appear to be unbelievable for many, be practical about your self. Don’t make your self rise up at 5 or 6 to meditate in the event you hate getting up early. Do it when it is handy and simple for you, and then you definately’ll be extra prone to hold doing it!

As for meditating for every week (or extra) with out meals and water just like the Buddha, this is not really helpful for freshmen and even the skilled. For most individuals, 15-20 minutes is an efficient session, however even 5 minutes is useful, and some lengthy-time practitioners will do longer mediations. Starting out, 5 minutes is an efficient quantity as a result of it is easy to perform and will even give a novice a style of the optimistic advantages. Try that for a couple of days, or every week, then transfer to 10 minutes, 15 minutes and lastly 20 minutes. For me, and most meditators, 20 minutes appears to be the candy spot.


Experienced meditators can meditate in an airport, a subway station, or a Trump marketing campaign rally. But most favor a quiet, not-too-vivid location. Light is just not a difficulty, however many discover a darkened or dimly lit room (candlelight is nice) extra calming. Of course, the Buddha meditated outdoors, and many get pleasure from doing so on a stump within the woods or a rock on a mountain high or the sand on the seashore. Whatever the locale, full quiet (or soothing music or nature sounds) is finest.

Thich Nhat Hanh famously says he does strolling meditations in airports and on crowded metropolis streets to the bemusement of the locals. Some meditation kinds say to maintain the eyes barely open and deal with an area a couple of inches in entrance of your eyes. I’m of the “eye’s wide shut,” college. Experiment for your self.


No particular gear is required. All you want is you and a spot to sit down or lie down. Most meditate sitting up with a superb, grounded posture. Lying down is ok, though it’s simple to go to sleep this manner, and sleeping is just not meditating. Deep respiratory is just not a nap. Not that there is something fallacious with a nap.

You may like a pillow to sit down on. Some meditators favor to perk up with a superb posture, whereas others lean in opposition to a wall or cushion behind them, and may even meditate in a chair or sofa. Some Buddhists use a flat, cushioned mat, and on that one other pillow that’s formed form of like a chocolate layer cake, perhaps 8-10 inches throughout. Sitting on this cushion, with legs crossed on the mat or in a kneeling place, can really feel very steady and snug.

Some sit in lotus or half lotus (cross legged with one ankle on the other knee for half lotus or each ankles on the other knee for full lotus). This is just not simple for many, and even those that can sit this manner will discover that after a couple of minutes the foot will get uncomfortable or falls asleep. The fundamental issues to attain in sitting place are consolation, so you aren’t distracted by discomfort, and good posture. Whatever place permits this, together with mendacity down, is ok.

Candles, incense and music can improve meditation. If you need music, it’s best to hearken to one thing non-melodic, like chimes or bells or random flute and nature sounds. Or nothing. Music with phrases or melody or rhythm is distracting and needs to be prevented. Nature sounds, just like the ocean or a stream or rain may be great, particularly in the event you dwell in an city space with visitors sounds, sirens, folks’s music, rubbish vans, and so on., as a result of the sounds can assist mute the environmental aural litter.

A terrific funding is a kitchen timer. You may also use a timer in your sensible cellphone (and even your dumb cellphone if you do not have a wise one). I exploit a kitchen timer that I bought earlier than sensible telephones have been a factor. I punch within the period of time I wish to meditate (normally 20 minutes, though I add a minute to permit myself time to settle in), and that is it. Why a timer? Then you need not test the clock. And whenever you begin out, you may wish to test the clock rather a lot, and whenever you do, after feeling such as you’ve meditated for a half-hour and look to see it has been beneath 4 minutes, you may see what’s so nice a few timer.


Good query. I’ve tried each. Kundalini practitioners use, amongst different mantras, “ong namo gurudev namo,” which suggests “I bow to the teacher within me.” I like that as a result of it feels non-spiritual. And there are tons of others. You need not know what they imply, as a result of it is actually concerning the saying or pondering of the mantra. The sound. The repetition. It helps you get in the suitable mindset. Not figuring out the which means might be higher. Those reared on praying in Hebrew or Latin may agree.

Remember: if you’re a non secular particular person and do not feel snug participating in spiritual ceremonies apart from your personal, mantras are usually not prayers. Some do sound like prayers, nonetheless. If this is a matter for you, both discover a mantra that’s fully secular, or repeat a brief prayer from your personal spiritual apply.

Some orgainized meditation actions or teams have been round for a long time and value a great deal of cash. One had gone as much as nearly $2,500 (to get your customized mantra and coaching), however now could be extra like $1000. I do know individuals who have accomplished this for 40 years and swear by it. Howard Stern, King of All Media, is a life-lengthy practitioner (following his dad and mom’ lead) and says it is probably the greatest issues he ever did and he practices each day. If you will have the cash and wish to go that route, nice. If not, do a Google search and I’m guessing you possibly can simply discover a mantra hack you should utilize, for free. Don’t inform anybody I instructed you this.

I by no means paid for a mantra. I’ve chanted with members of the Buddhist Church of America (related to the Buddhist Church of Japan), and they chant via your complete meditation (the effectively-identified “nam-myoho-renge-kyo”). It was a pleasant expertise, sitting in a room with 20 folks at somebody’s home, chanting, nevertheless it wasn’t my cup of inexperienced tea. I discovered it an excessive amount of work to maintain up the chanting and it did not assist me focus the best way I favored. So I by no means went again, regardless that the folks have been good and the after-meditation refreshments have been scrumptious.

But you do not must be Buddhist to meditate, and many Buddhist teams welcome practitioners of all faiths. While I typically use a mantra to get began, my fundamental mantra is my breath, which I’ll describe subsequent. If you need a mantra, the books of the good Buddhist monk and instructor Thich Nhat Hanh are filled with what he calls “gathas” or little poems that work effectively. Most have been written in Vietnamese, however he has translated them to French and English. My favourite additionally makes use of respiratory, and goes like this:

Breathing in, I calm my physique

Breathing out, I smile

Breathing in, I dwell within the current second

Breathing out, I do know it’s a great second

Nice, proper? Not a prayer. You do that with in-breath and out-breath for a couple of minutes. No must say (or assume) this via your complete meditation. Eventually, you possibly can shorten it to “In – calm, out – smile, in – present moment, out- wonderful moment.” And observe the breath and smile whenever you say it.

In truth, Thich Nhat Hanh factors out that almost all renditions of the Buddha present him smiling in meditation, and that it’s best to all the time smile when meditating. Not solely does this chill out the muscle mass in your face, nevertheless it additionally makes you’re feeling good. Yes, smiling even whenever you really feel unhealthy makes you’re feeling good. He additionally says meditation is great so it’s best to smile. If you possibly can’t smile when meditating, when are you able to?


This brings us to crucial factor, respiratory. Meditation is respiratory; respiratory is meditation. Breathing is taking in air and then letting it out. You breathe in by contracting your diaphragm. Outbreath occurs when your diaphragm relaxes. The elasticity of your lungs and diaphragm brings them again to an at-relaxation place, pushing out the air. Your physique does this by itself (so you possibly can hold inhaling your sleep), however you possibly can management it to an extent. What we wish to do in meditation or deep respiratory is sluggish the breath down and soak up as a lot air as doable with out straining. You need a deep breath, not a strained breath.

Sitting (or mendacity) comfortably, take sluggish, lengthy breaths, however do not push it. Keep it relaxed. Breathe solely via your nostril (after all, in case you have a chilly, mouth-respiratory is ok, and some meditation methods name for exhalation via the mouth). Use your common breath to begin, and hold growing the size of every breath by taking the air in just a little deeper with every inhale. When exhaling, do the identical. Slow down the exhale and attempt to set free most of your breath earlier than inhaling once more. Remember, do not push or pressure or management. Just deepen and lengthen the breath.

This may be accomplished whereas saying a mantra if you’re utilizing one (breathe in and exhale the mantra), or simply whereas pondering the mantra, or gatha, in your thoughts. Eventually, you’ll simply be respiratory and not even eager about the mantra, or about something.

The smartest thing to do (which additionally helps clear the thoughts) is to deal with two issues: your stomach pushing out with every inhale and pulling in with the exhale (proper round and slightly below your navel, the world known as “dan-tien” in some Eastern teachings, which additionally simply occurs to be the anatomical heart of the physique), and additionally deal with the cool feeling of air coming into your nostrils close to the tip of your nostril.

Focusing on these two bodily sensations will hold you from holding on too lengthy to ideas that come and go throughout the meditation. Thoughts like, “did I remember to buy milk” (or soy milk in the event you’re a Vegan). And talking of ideas…


We are creatures of thought. We assume on a regular basis. Even asleep. Even when doing one thing absorbing (like watching a film or speaking to a good friend), we’d abruptly bear in mind we left the range on. This is a part of being human.

Contrary to fashionable notion, meditation or deep respiratory does not require an empty thoughts. Thoughts and concepts will come to you whereas meditating. Some might even be inspirational. You might get an concept for a success tune, during which case, cease meditating, write down the tune, and begin once more. Don’t hand over a top-40 hit single simply since you’re a disciplined meditator!

When a thought like “maybe I’ll have Chinese food tonight” or “My coworker Michael is such an a-hole” enters, that is nice. Acknowledge the thought, maintain it to your coronary heart, and let it go. Back to your breath. To the sensation of your stomach rising and falling, the cool air coming into your nostrils. The thought will go away as certainly because it got here. And one other will enter to be acknowledged and launched. This is a part of the method. If you get caught on a thought, return to your breath. If it is actually arduous, attempt counting your breaths, 1 to 10, and then moving into reverse. If you are doing a superb job, you may by no means get during to 10. That’s nice. Just begin once more.

Once you’ve got been doing this for some time, you’ll discover that the thoughts does clear, that ideas come much less typically and are of shorter length. You could possibly have that have of “leaving the body,” the place you’re feeling precisely as if you might be outdoors of your self, wanting down from above or from throughout the room at your self meditating. Another expertise is of going deep inside your self, to really feel the middle of your thoughts. It’s nearly like a management heart, deep throughout the mind, the place your consciousness resides. Is this an actual place? Probably not. But it feels prefer it. It’s like driving in an area capsule within the universe of your consciousness. Whoa.


There have been many research worldwide that present meditation and deep respiratory to be very helpful. The results and advantages develop into extra pronounced and profound cumulatively, because the apply builds on itself. Just know that the advantages have been proven to assist with hypertension, insomnia, melancholy, nervousness, consuming issues, ache administration, and even facet-results of most cancers therapies, in addition to habit and rehabilitation. And that is a really brief listing.

Some meditation academics together with Thich Nhat Hanh encourage folks to type a sangha or group of some individuals who can meditate collectively. Guided meditation lessons can be found throughout. Yoga studios typically have yoga lessons or guided periods, as do many faculties and homes of worship. For freshmen, meditating with a bunch may be instructive, gratifying, and simpler than beginning alone.

Another technique to go is guided meditation apps or CDs or DVDs or downloads. There are nice (instructive and guided) on YouTube. Please see Resources, beneath, for one instance.

Just bear in mind, there is no such thing as a one technique to meditate. Do what feels proper to you. You’ll solely do it frequently if it is sensible to you and feels good. Where you do it, alone or with folks, the time of day or night, music or no music, mantra or no mantra, sitting or mendacity down — go along with your instincts and emotions. Whatever works finest, is finest.


Currently, essentially the most over-used time period within the “whole being” world is “mindfulness.” Everything is conscious nowadays, from purchasing to uncoupling. Or is that acutely aware? No matter. It’s a bit a lot. There’s even a “mindful dating” sight. Aaaauuugghhh! I first heard the time period within the writings of Thich Nhat Hanh (a few years in the past), and that for me is the true which means. It means being current. Here. Now. Aware. Focused on what you are doing.

If you are consuming an orange, be conscious of the pores and skin as you peel it, the feel of the fruit, the juiciness, the sweetness as you chunk, the texture of the little sacs of juice in your tongue. Chew slowly and for a very long time to completely grind the fruit and style it earlier than swallowing.

Thich Nhat Hanh says, in the event you’re washing the dishes, WASH THE DISHES. Focus on what you are doing, what it looks like, and doing it effectively. Don’t wash the dishes and take into consideration what’s on TV later. Just wash the dishes. This is mindfulness. And if you’re conscious sufficient, you possibly can meditate WHILE washing the dishes or consuming the orange. This is the true which means of mindfulness.

This is just not work. It is meant to be gratifying. It is meant to really feel good. It is just not a chore. It is just not like “oh I better work out today or I’ll get fat,” or one thing that we have to do moderately than wish to do. So smile whenever you do it, and attempt to do it each day, or twice a day.

You needn’t spend an excessive amount of time. And you’ll discover after a brief time frame (it varies with the person, however I’d say inside a month) that it’s simple to do and that you do not wish to miss it. And when that occurs, you’ll perceive why so many individuals worldwide have made meditation a part of their day by day routine, and why so many docs, therapists and others concerned in bodily and emotional well being really feel that meditation is without doubt one of the finest methods to attain true wellness and peace.

Breathe in peace, well being and happiness. Breathe out nervousness, sickness and unhappiness. And be effectively!

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