Mindfulness of Breathing


Mindfulness of Breathing is one of three practises, Sangharakshita ( founder Triratna Buddhist Order ) introduced for people who are new to meditation.

It is a Samatha ( calming ) practise.

The method is the same as in the Zen tradition, both Rinzi and Soto Zen.

The method is to be aware of the breath. Not thinking about the breath but alive to the actual experience of breathing.

You are looking to increase the gap in time before a thought takes you away from the breath.
First you slow down the flow of thoughts. With practise getting longer and longer periods of time, with no thoughts at all.

Mindfulness of Breathing has four stages.

Stage I, Quietly count the number 1 at the end of your first out breath, then count just the number 2 and the end of your second out breath. Keep count 3,4,5.. after each out breath until you get to 10. Then go back to 1 and count up to 10 again. This is stage I.
If you lose count or count passed 10 don't worry, don't give yourself a hard time, check the body is relaxed and re-engage with the practise. It's a count of just one number after each out breath.

Stage II, In this stage count before the in breath. You are counting in the same place but instead of marking the end of the out breath you are marking the start of the in breath.

Stage III,Now drop the counting, all of your awareness on all of the breath.

Stage IV,Fourth and final stage. Bring your awareness to where the breath enters the body.

By cultivating awareness of the breath you become more aware in general. Greater awareness of things, yourself, thoughts and feelings. Aware of others.

With greater awareness of things you actually start to notice and take in your surroundings and environment.
We rarely stop and look nowadays.

Awareness of self. Starting with the body. You will tend to slow down physically, become less accident prone and because you are being more efficient, you get more done.

Awareness of feelings. Happy or sad. Up or down. Nothing more complicated than this. With greater awareness of feelings you will find that unhelpful emotional states, those associated with ill-will and wanting will tend to be resolved and reduced. More helpful states will increase. If you tend to be a bit hot tempered, you will tend to become less hot tempered.

Awareness of of thoughts. Thoughts just drift into our minds. We don't know where they come from or why we are having them. With practise over time all thoughts will drop away during meditation and you are just left with clear bright awareness.

Awareness of other people. It's important to be aware of a person as a person, not as a sort of object, from which we are going to get some need meet. With Mindfulness of Breathing and Metta Bhavana meditation practise you will become better at connecting with other people in a more real and authentic way.

Book References:

Wildmind by Bodhipaksa,  Windhorse Publications
Buddhist Mediation by Kamalashila,  Windhorse Publications

the Body by Paramananda,  Windhorse Publications
the Breath by Vessantara,  Windhorse Publications
the Heart by Vessantara,  Windhorse Publications

metta by various authors,  Windhorse Publications

The Mindful Manifesto by J Heaversedge and E Halliwell,  Hay house