Anapanasati meditation or Breath meditation is a kind of meditation that focuses your mind with the help of breathing. It is used not just to calm your mind and clear it of any useless clutter that may have accrued there but also helps promote mindfulness and a sense of awareness. It is the first subject of meditation expounded by the Buddha in the Maha-satipatthana Sutta, the Great Discourse on the Foundations of Mindfulness.
However it requires a great deal of focus, consistency and diligence since it is not altogether easy for the mind to stay too focused on your breathing for a long while.
This meditation is very important to Buddhist monks as Buddha laid great emphasis on the importance of this kind of meditation to attaining enlightenment. It is said that as Buddha sat under the Boddhisatva tree and waited to reach enlightenment he practice Anapana sati or breath meditation. It is thus, this meditation that helped clear his mind and focus it on receiving that one answer to the universal question.
The steps to this meditation are simple and easy to follow. The first step is to find a comfortable and quiet place where you can sit and practice your meditation without the fear of being disturbed before you have completed the procedure. Get rid of your mobile phones and laptops as these serve as bad distractions.
Once you’ve settled on the place decide a posture. You may choose a walking or lying down posture but neither is recommended. Sticking to basics is sometimes the best so just sitting with your back straight, your body relaxed and your hands on your knees is the best posture to use.
Next step is to begin the breathing procedure. Start by concentrating on your breaths and slowing them down gradually. With each inhale feel your entire body and with each exhale feel your existence. Let go of all your distractions and feel your mind become empty. Once your mind is stilled or settled start focusing on a particular point on your face – eye, nose, ear or mouth. To strengthen your focus, keep concentrating on the flow of your breath at that point. You may even start counting your breaths as you inhale and exhale.
Once you have attained focus or the stillness of mind you can use it to fulfil your objective behind meditating. Skilled meditators often use their focus on breathing to feel the balance and flow of energy within our body and its interactions with the surrounding. They then proceed to control this flow of life energy and heal wounds, ease pain and so on.
You may persevere to lengthen your breath and calm your mind if it is agitated on you may ponder on issues that you need to clear or like Buddha you may sit and wait for enlightenment. For the entire duration of your meditation keep your focus on one thing. That thing can be anything but don’t let your focus stray.
Mindfulness of breathing is difficult to develop. Often practitioners reach the ultimate stage of concentration where they feel a pleasure which is commonly called rapture. Rapture occurs to different meditators in different forms. To some it is a heightened sense of colour or characteristic, to others it is like a physical sensation.
Once you reach that point you must concentrate on your focus point with all your energy and not get distracted by attempting to analyse this rapture. Balanced and even focus is required to maintain his height of concentration and help your mind go deeper than this point. However it is not very often that meditators especially the novice ones are able to reach this point of ultimate focus.
[Read: Ways to Do Christian Mediation]
Meditation is an excellent practice to help yourself become more mindful and aware of all that goes around you. It can help you turn your life around completely.