Monday, September 14, 2009

Simple breath meditation

At the moment I'm beginning every day with around an hour of meditation. I usually do this in bed, as soon as I wake up. I just lie in bed doing it, because I have difficulties sitting up.

I have a general structure to the meditation, and usually starting off just focusing on my breath. I have a practice where I count my breaths one to five, then start again and count them one to six, then one to seven...etc until I'm counting one to ten. Then I start over again counting one to five.

I can't remember where I first read about this particular technique, but it works well for me because it keeps me focused. I usually do this technique for 10 minutes or so, just to get myself settled.

Lately, to introduce some 'loving kindness' techniques into my meditation, I've also been focusing on the gentle, soft, aspects of the breath. I concentrate on the breath, and say 'gentle breath in,' or 'soft breath out.' While I'm doing this I start to soften into the breath and really start to feel the gentleness and softness of the breath as it flows in and out. The words I'm saying in my mind slowly move from being just abstract constructs, into being real feelings. It's as though repeating the words 'gentle,' 'soft' or 'kind' in my mind, and connecting them with my breath actually starts to 'grow' these feelings in my body.

Sometimes I feel colors, or even shapes associated with the softness of the breath. This morning I had a strong image of a baby pink color, which represents a very childlike softness to me. I just allowed myself to breath this soft color in and out. Sometimes I have images of a very soft pillow, and I feel the breath rising and falling on top of this pillow.

Sometimes I find I have very little emotion when I do this meditation, sometimes just snatches of emotions, and sometimes I find I have tears rolling down my face as I really feel the softness of the breath. Sometimes I notice really strong judgements about focusing on gentleness or kindness. My mind says things like, 'this is so stupid! It's embarrassing! You're just being self-absorbed and weak!' I'm slowly learning just to notice these thoughts and allow them to be, without paying much attention to them.

To summarise this meditation idea, it is...

Counting the breaths - 1 to 5, 1 to 6 .... until 1 to 10, then starting over. I do this two or three times.
Softly repeating 'gentle breath in' 'soft breath out' and allowing colors or shapes or gentle images to arise (or nothing to arise!) as I keep focusing on the breath.


  1. I used to do something so similar with my patients. works a treat :)

  2. What I do is similar to the first part of this, but I find I always fall asleep after 10 or 20 minutes! I think with my ME/CFS being so severe (I'm bedridden) that I'm always so exhausted - even right after waking up - I just can't manage to stay awake with no outside focus. Like you I need to meditate lying down becasue I can't sit up, and that probably doesn't help with the "don't fall asleep" part.

    I feel like I'm a "failure" as a meditator becasue of the falling asleep. Everything I've ever read or listened to about meditation says not to fall asleep! And while everything I've read/heard also says to be gentle to yourself about straying thoughts, not to judge, I've never heard anything talk about falling asleep with this non-judgement. I guess as most people meditate sitting up it would be more or less a non-issue for them, but I find emotionally it's a problem for me.

    Another exacerbating factor is that right after waking up I'm groggy and can't think or concentrate, so I don't meditate then I do it towards the end of my day before when I would sleep anyway. My day's schedule is greatly dictated by when I need to sleep (midnight-10:30am and 3pm-6pm) and when my PCAs are here to look after me (10:30am-1pm and 6pm-8pm) so the only "free" time I have is 1-3pm and 8pm-12am, give or take. And 1-3pm I need to do everything that needs to be done during business hours, there's never enough time and energy for that.

    To be honest, I've just "given up" and embraced the fact I'll fall asleep so now I meditate at 3pm and 12am and use it as a way to get to sleep on purpose. But I feel guilty and ashamed about doing it - I don't think I've told many people, even! Being bedridden I'm not in contact locally with any meditators so I have no teacher or guide, I'm just doing this.



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