Anapana: The Ultimate Mindfulness Meditation
Meditation is the practice of training the mind. The trained mind leads to freedom from suffering. The more we can train our mind, the happier we will be. Meditation is a way of self-training the mind. Despite the difficulty of focusing and training the mind, it is essential because we cannot expect to experience peace for no reason unless we train the mind.
Anapana meditation is mindfulness of the in-and-out breath. This is the meditation taught (traditionally) for all beginners. The reason for beginning with mindfulness of the breath is that the breath is always with us. The breath is not something that we need to acquire, thus we choose to start with something that is with us all of the time.
We have been breathing since we were born up to the present moment. We are always breathing naturally, naturally but inattentively. This is breathing simply to live. When beginning to practice anapana meditation, you only need to change one thing: your awareness. You are breathing mindfully, rather than inattentively.
Sit in a comfortable position on a cushion or pillow, give yourself a lot of support so that you can sit comfortably and straight. You may even sit up against a wall. When you feel comfortable and relaxed, the breathing will come naturally. You should then become aware of the breath somewhere around the nostrils or between the nostrils and the upper lip. Become aware of the breath wherever you feel it near the nostrils and the upper lip. Begin to note the cycle of the breath as it moves ‘in’ and ‘out’. Breathing and noting should be done naturally. Whenever wandering thoughts arise, gently bring the mind back to the breath, without getting interested in these thoughts.
Try to practice this for 3-5 minutes at first and gradually add on small amounts of time over months.