Meditation exercise 1: Focus on the Breath



This exercise will help you to sit still and concentrate, 2 basic requirements which will allow you to progress toward a meditation practice.  How often do we take time in our lives to simply sit still?  Not doing anything or thinking of anything but simply being?  Nourish your ‘being’ with this simple exercise you can do at home.

  1. Find a quiet place and take a few moments to get comfortable.  Make sure your back is well-supported so that you can sit upright without much effort.  Relax your shoulders.  Have your feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart and your hands resting in your lap.  Close your eyes.  Be alert but at ease.
  2. Once you have made yourself comfortable, resist the temptation to move or fidget; this is often the restlessness of the mind presenting itself in the physical body.  Instead, each time you feel restless, note that urge and use it as a cue to  relax your whole body and let go of any tension in the muscles.
  3. Spend a few minutes scanning the body from your head to your toes.  Release any areas that feel tense or heavy.  You can do this by simply keeping your awareness in that area for a while.  Perhaps you can visualise that there are flower petals resting there, bringing softness.
  4. When your body feels relaxed, bring your attention to the breath.  Allow the breath flow freely and easily, like a wave.  There is no need to try too hard, no need to breathe deeply.  Instead let the breath move through the body like a wave, ebbing and flowing effortlessly.
  5. Keep your attention on the breath.  We are using the breath here as a focus for the mind, thereby improving our concentration.  Try to breathe in and out through the nose, keeping the mouth closed.
  6. It is natural for the mind to become distracted.  When this happens, calmly return your attention to the flow of the breath.
  7. Concentrate on the small movements created by the breath in the body.  Feel the rise and fall of the breath at the front of the body.  Carry on with this practice for as long as it feels comfortable, perhaps 5 or 10 minutes, longer if it feels natural.
  8. To end, take a deeper breath and let your out-breath be long, slow and controlled.  Notice how you feel, your body, your mind.  Open your eyes and sit quietly for a few moments to absorb the benefits of your practice.

Rajnandini Flood has been teaching yoga and meditation for over 10 years. She is a founding member of Lotus Yoga, a Dublin city centre studio, and creator of the yoga website