Basic Breathing Meditation

Extracts from Time Magazine’s article, “How to Get Smarter One Breath At A Time: Scientists find that meditation not only reduces stress but also reshapes the brain“;

One recent study found evidence that the daily practice of meditation thickened the parts of the brain’s cerebral cortex responsible for decision making, attention and memory. Sara Lazar, a research scientist at Massachusetts General Hospital, presented preliminary results last November that showed that the gray matter of 20 men and women who meditated for just 40 minutes a day was thicker than that of people who did not.

The forms of meditation Lazar and other scientists are studying involve focusing on an image or sound or on one’s breathing. Though deceptively simple, the practice seems to exercise the parts of the brain that help us pay attention. “Attention is the key to learning, and meditation helps you voluntarily regulate it,” says Richard Davidson, director of the Laboratory for Affective Neuroscience at the University of Wisconsin.

Basic Counting Breaths Meditation for The Beginner: The key to this meditation is to focus on your breathing and every time you notice your mind straying to any thought just bring your attention back to your breathing. To keep your mind occupied you engage it in a count. For example as you inhale you count to four. Then you hold that breath for a count of 4. Then exhale for a count of 4. Then hold again for a count of 4.

The following audio guides you through a basic breathing meditation called paranyama in yoga. The pattern it guides you through is inhale, hold, exhale, hold and repeat. Once you have mastered this pattern then you can increase the length of the inhales, exhales and holding time depending on your lung capacity. Remember to always breath slow and deep as that is the appropriate breathing pattern for relaxation and meditation. Fast breathing can lead to hyper ventilation and is not conducive for meditation.