- Breath Meditation:
- Phra Ajaan Lee Dhammadharo
There are seven basic steps:
1. Start out with three or seven long in-&-out
breaths, thinking bud- with the in-breath, and dho with
the out. Keep the meditation syllable as long as the breath.
2. Be clearly aware of each in-&-out breath.
3. Observe the breath as it goes in & out,
noticing whether it's comfortable or uncomfortable, broad or narrow,
obstructed or free-flowing, fast or slow, short or long, warm or cool.
If the breath doesn't feel comfortable, change it until it does. For
instance, if breathing in long & out long is uncomfortable, try
breathing in short & out short. As soon as you find that your
breathing feels comfortable, let this comfortable breath sensation
spread to the different parts of the body.
To begin with, inhale the breath sensation at the base
of the skull and let it flow all the way down the spine. Then, if you
are male, let it spread down your right leg to the sole of your foot, to
the ends of your toes, and out into the air. Inhale the breath sensation
at the base of the skull again and let it spread down your spine, down
your left leg to the ends of your toes, and out into the air. (If you
are female, begin with the left side first, because the male &
female nervous systems are different.)
Then let the breath from the base of the skull spread
down over both shoulders, past your elbows & wrists, to the tips of
your fingers, and out into the air.
Let the breath at the base of the throat spread down
the central nerve at the front of the body, past the lungs & liver,
all the way down to the bladder & colon.
Inhale the breath right at the middle of the chest and
let it go all the way down to your intestines.
Let all these breath sensations spread so that they
connect & flow together, and you'll feel a greatly improved sense of
4. Learn four ways of adjusting the breath:
a. in long & out long,
b. in long & out short,
short & out long,
d. in short & out short.
Breathe whichever way is most comfortable for you. Or,
better yet, learn to breathe comfortably all four ways, because your
physical condition & your breath are always changing.
5. Become acquainted with the bases or focal points
for the mind -- the resting spots of the breath -- and center your
awareness on whichever one seems most comfortable. A few of these bases
a. the tip of the nose,
b. the middle of the head,
d. the base of the throat,
e. the breastbone (the tip of
f. the navel (or a point just above it).
If you suffer from frequent headaches or nervous
problems, don't focus on any spot above the base of the throat. And
don't try to force the breath or put yourself into a trance. Breathe
freely & naturally. Let the mind be at ease with the breath -- but
not to the point where it slips away.
6. Spread your awareness -- your sense of conscious
feeling -- throughout the entire body.
7. Unite the breath sensations throughout the body,
letting them flow together comfortably, keeping your awareness as broad
as possible. Once you are fully aware of the aspects of the breath you
already know in your body, you'll come to know all sorts of other
aspects as well. The breath, by its nature, has many facets: breath
sensations flowing in the nerves, those flowing around & about the
nerves, those spreading from the nerves to every pore. Beneficial breath
sensations & harmful ones are mixed together by their very nature.
To summarize: (a) for the sake of improving the energy
already existing in every part of your body, so that you can contend
with such things as disease & pain; and (b) for the sake of
clarifying the knowledge already within you, so that it can become a
basis for the skills leading to release & purity of heart -- you
should always bear these seven steps in mind, because they are
absolutely basic to every aspect of breath meditation.