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Using the Breath as an Anchor

Updated: Jul 2, 2022

Our breath is constantly flowing and automatic. During this focused attention meditation, we use the breath as our anchor to the present moment.

During focused-attention meditations, your goal is to focus your attention on a single meditation object. The object can be internal, such as your breath, or external, like a flame or sound.

Our minds are hectic. We don't usually notice this because we are constantly doing something. We are not our bodies or our minds; we are the Being within this human vessel. When we meditate, we intentionally focus our attention and become observers of the internal state of mind.

While our goal may be to focus on the breath during meditation, our attention will inevitably wander. When this happens, do not get frustrated or judgmental of your practice. Instead, be grateful that you became mindful that your attention has wandered.

This aha moment is something we want to practice and strengthen. When our minds subconsciously learn to remind us to be present, we are reminded to pay attention to the here and now. Ruminating about the past isn't necessary to create the future we desire. Instead, being aware of what is happening in the present moment is where all our opportunities exist.

Begin this exercise by getting into a comfortable position, either seated or laying down somewhere you won't be disturbed.

You can use a meditation cushion, a chair, couch, yoga mat, the floor, or whatever is accessible to you. Avoid meditating in bed; you do not want to fall asleep.

Take three deep breaths to relax your mind and body and bring your attention to the present moment.

When you are ready, you can close your eyes or lower your gaze.

Notice how your body feels.

How does it feel coming into contact with the surface you are resting on?

Do you notice any physical sensations?

Bring your attention to the pulsation of your breath.

How does it feel as you inhale and exhale?

You can rest your hands on your stomach and notice how the belly rises with each in-breath and out-breath.

Using the breath as an anchor

Focusing on the physical sensations of your breath keeps your brain stimulated, so you are less likely to get distracted. Distractions are inevitable, especially if you are new to meditation, this is normal and nothing to resist or judge.

When you become mindful that your attention has wandered, simply note where your mind went (thought about food, work, kids, etc.) and gently bring your attention back to the breath. You can take a deep breath and bring your attention back to the body before returning to the breath.

You can also try counting your breaths, inhaling 1, exhaling 2, up until 10.

Or you could recite a phrase or mantra with each inhale and exhale.

Try different things and find what works best for you.

Start small

If you are new to meditation, don't feel like you need to meditate for a long time.

One, two, and five minutes is a great start.

You can meditate for longer as you become more comfortable with the practice.

There is a guided meditation available on Planet Mindfulness for this exercise.

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