The Cycle of Breath

Begin by finding a comfortable sitting position. It is important to clear your physical space of distractions that will inhibit your mediation; after all, you are trying to achieve a peaceful and relaxed state of consciousness. A ringing telephone can be an interruption that can ruin your session. Any other distractions should be dealt with before you begin.

Once you have achieved a comfortable position, pay attention to how your body feels. Make sure you’re sitting in a position that you will be able to maintain for some time. If you get the sensation that your feet are falling asleep, you will need to shift around until you’re comfortable. Many people find that sitting cross-legged on the floor works well, though others cannot tolerate this position at all. Some are able to maintain the lotus position, in which one sits cross-legged on the floor with the feet tucked over the thighs, hands resting on the thighs and palms facing upward, sometimes with the thumb and index finger touching. You may even experiment with lying down, but remember that the purpose of meditation is relaxing the body and opening the mind, and not falling asleep. While comfort is important, you do not want to be so comfortable that you lose interest in the meditation and end up snoozing. Maintaining both focus and relaxation is an important aspect of developing a meditative practice.

Once you have achieved a comfortable and sustainable position, sit with your spine as straight as possible. Imagine a silver cord rising from the top of your head, pulling you up toward the sky. This image will help you maintain proper spinal alignment. Also envision a cord extending from the base of your spine deep into the earth. This will help keep you grounded. Sitting with your spine very straight also helps you retain your energy, for when you slouch over, your internal organs are crowded on top of one another and cannot perform at their most efficient level of function. Such a lack of alignment is not an optimal position for maintaining an energized state of being. What you are seeking is a relaxed, but invigorated state. You feel calm and at peace, but alive and very much full of energy.

  1. Begin by taking very deep breaths. Establish a cycle of breathing by inhaling to a count of three and then exhaling to a count of three.
  2. Repeat this cycle of breathing for nine repetitions. Once you have done the nine repetitions, increase the length of time you spend inhaling and exhaling.
  3. You can add one additional count and repeat this cycle three times. Add another count, again repeating it until you have achieved what feels to be your utmost lung capacity. Breathing at your fullest capacity increases oxygen levels in your brain and in your blood, thus touching every part of your body. The oxygen you are giving yourself is purifying. It will unleash your creativity and keep your mind and body in good working order.

Focus only on the breathing at first. When the cycle feels natural to you and no longer an effort, it is time to continue with your chosen technique of meditation.

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