A Simple Breath Meditation
It’s been a monumentally busy summer of yoga and paddleboarding, and I have loved every moment of it! That said, I’ve had to put a lot of extra consideration into my usual yoga practice to help keep me balanced and to avoid burn out (it’s been a bit close to the line a couple of times if I’m honest).
Whilst I love the physical (asana) side of my practice, and especially the energetic and challenging aspects, I have consciously chosen to reduce these parts of my practice and allow more time for breath work (pranayama) and meditation. These have been the ‘yin’ to summer’s ‘yang’.
The main meditation I have come back to time and time again is using the breath to anchor the mind. This is something I’ve heard many times in the past, but perhaps due to spending so many hours on an anchored paddleboard, I have now started to take it very simply and literally.
To share it with you, I’ve added a simple diagram on the right to show just what I picture in my mind. If we consider the mind to be a boat (or better still, a paddleboard!) floating on the water, we can use the breath as an anchor to keep it in the present moment. The line between the anchor and board represents our focus or attention.
When the weather is calm, the board will float above the anchor without really being aware of, or affected by, the line or anchor, yet they are still there. When the wind or waves pick up a little, the line will gently hold the board in place, and if it gets really stormy then the line will seem to pull the board back to where it should be.
Equally, when the mind is clear and calm, the focus can be very light and it may even feel like the mind is floating in perfect stillness. This will not be a permanent state, but hopefully you can find this feeling, even if just momentarily. The busier the mind is, the more consciously you will have to stay with the breath – this is when I find practices such as breath counting very helpful.
If you like, try it now:
Just sit comfortably and let your eyes close. As you breath in, slowly count to four; as you breathe out, slowly count to six. Repeat for approximately ten to twenty breaths.
Then let go of the counting and just notice how your mind feels. See if you can invite it to remain peaceful for a little longer, as if it’s floating in the stillness above that anchor of the breath that you were just holding on to. You need not force anything, for a few minutes just patiently observe what happens. Any time the mind wanders, just gently bring it back to the anchor of the breath.
Perhaps you have heard me say before, the mind is like a muscle, in that it can be trained and strengthened. If you commit to a regular practice of pranayama and meditation, just a few minutes each day, the mind will gradually learn to find a sense of quiet and peacefulness more easily.
If you would like to progress your pranayama and meditation practice, please contact me and I would be more than happy to offer some tips and direction.
Om shanti (peaceful blessings)
xx Helen xx