Breathing is something that we do all the time. We can return our minds to the breath any time because it is something that is with us all the time. When we bring our minds to the breath, we feel connected to the world.

Training in following the breath is so important that the Buddha recommended it to everyone. Focusing on our breath is how we establish mindfulness. It’s how we can practice being here now. We establish a strong foundation of mindfulness just by being here with the breath, breathing in and breathing out with full attention. We are just using our sensations of breathing as a focus for our mindfulness.

When we pay attention to our breathing, the mind calms down  and we begin to experience each breath fully. Mindfulness of the breath helps us see that it’s a part of who we are, the main way we interact with the world around us. We take in oxygen and release carbon dioxide all the time. When we pay attention to it, we notice that and also we notice how our body moves with each breath.

Instructions for following the breath.

  1. Go to a quiet place.
  2. Set a timer. It’s important to set a beginning and ending to our practice.
  3. Bring your awareness to this moment.
  4. Sit in a comfortable posture and straighten your spine.
  5. Put your hands in your lap
  6. close your eyes or focus your gaze on something that won’t distract you.
  7. Focus on the breath coming in and going out.
  8. Try counting. On the next in breath silently think “one” and on the next out breath “two”. Every time a thought comes into your mind to distract you, bring your thinking back to one.


Some tips:

  1. If your mind wanders, don’t get upset, just start over at one on the next in breath. It happens to all of us.
  2. If you begin to feel sleepy, try cultivating a stronger focus on the breath. If that doesn’t work, try practicing while standing.
  3. If you feel pain, adjust your posture. Pay attention to painful sensations and how they change.
  4. If you have questions about your practice, don’t be afraid to ask someone. People with more experience than you will almost always be willing to offer words of encouragement.
  5. Be patient and don’t be so hard on yourself.

How to Follow the Breath



This is probably the most common form of meditation practice.

First, establish the time of the meditation. Set a timer for an amount of time that you think you can do. A lot of people like to start with just 5 or 10 minutes and try to do more after they have an established meditation practice.

Find a comfortable place to sit. Adjust your posture so that your spine is erect without being stiff. Allow the rest of your body to relax. Rest your hands in your lap or on your legs. Allow your eyes to gently close. Bring your full attention to the feeling of sitting still. Allow your breathing to be natural. Bringing attention to your head, release any tension that you feel in your face.

Scanning the body slowly downward, relax your neck and shoulders.

Feel the rising and falling of your chest with each breath. Bring your attention all the way down your body to the places of contact with the floor (or chair if you’re sitting in one). Feel the pressure and density of your relaxed upright body.

Bringing your full attention to the present moment, acknowledge everything you’re experiencing. Thoughts are happening, hearing is happening, and there are probably mental and emotional sensations. Allow these experiences to be as they are, but bring your attention to the sensation of breathing. Bring your awareness of your breath to the foreground in your mind. Take a few moments and investigate where you can feel the air entering and leaving your body.

Breathing in, know that you are breathing in.

Breathing out, know that you are breathing out.

We can focus on this by counting one with each inhalation and two with each exhalation. Every time a thought or feeling arises to distract us, we can notice it and bring our attention back to one on the next inhalation.

It sounds very simple and it is. One of the most important things is to have a passive attitude, to not be upset with ourselves and starting thinking we can’t do it when things get difficult.

If you can do this simple practice for 10 minutes, every day for a week, your life will change.