While there are many ways in which to cultivate that ever important relationship with self, no practice is quicker and more direct than using the breath to help facilitate a meditative state. Some practice a breath control form known as pranayama yoga, while others concentrate on the breath to help focus their awareness away from the thinking mind.
Rebecca Lin and Ming-Ling Hsieh pen this recent China Post on the benefits of meditation and how the use of the breath presents a ideal way for people to learn to release stress and anxiety. According to Lin and Hsieh, once a person masters how to concentrate on the breath as a means to focus, more challenging focusing tasks like walking can be undertaken.
“You need to affix your mind to your breathing — inhale, exhale. The idea is to not let your thoughts go wandering wildly about,” Chen instructs as those in attendance close their eyes and focus on the rhythms of their own breathing.
The key element from which there can be no deviation is that it must be practiced continuously, starting with five minutes per day, increasing to 15 minutes per day after one week and on to 30 minutes per day after six months. In time, practitioners become accustomed to monitoring their own breathing.
Starting slowly with breathing, one can eventually learn to turn walking, eating, even drinking coffee or bathing, into acts of meditation. The aim is to maintain a steady mind unfazed by peripheral distractions.
Read more on using the breath to help facilitate meditation here.