Anapanasati (Mindfulness of Breathing)

A brief History of Anapanasati 

Anapanasati was the meditation Buddha told his monks to practice over 2500 years ago. Its literal translation is “mindfulness of breathing”. The technique can be found in the Anapanasati Sutta written in 6th century BC.

Buddha directed his monks to go into the forest, sit under a tree and mindfully observe how the breath flows through the body.

Benefits of Anapanasati

Scientists have found the following health benefits, but the best thing to do is try the meditation and experience the benefits for yourself.

  1. One of the best meditations for relaxation.

  2. Increases Serotonin

  3. Improves communication between hemispheres of the brain

  4. Improves reactions

  5. Helps prevent depression and anxiety

  6. Lowers Heart rate

  7. Improves airflow to lungs

  8. Helps balance blood pressure

  9. Reduces headaches and migraines

  10. Decreases muscle tension

  11. Decreases over thinking                                                                                                                                                       

The Technique 

The Place to Practice

Find a place in your home where you are comfortable. Make sure it is a place that has the least amount of distractions. It does not have to be completely silent but it does have to be somewhere calm and peaceful. 

I suggest you use the same place every time you practice at first. This helps the mind to associate the place with focus, calmness and peace, which helps you as you progress.  

The room should not be too bright or too dark.

The Position

There are lots of meditation positions which you can use for Anapansati.

I suggest one of the following, especially if you are trying meditation for the first time.

    Sitting with your legs crossed, back and spine upright and palms on your knees.

    Sitting in a chair with your back and spine upright with your palms on your knees

The key point to meditation is to be comfortable in the body, as discomfort can make it hard to focus.

Beginning Anapanasati

  1. Try to have a sense of calmness and peace before you begin. Take a few deep breaths with your eyes closed and make sure you feel comfortable in the body.

  2. When you are ready begin.

  3. Breathe in and breathe out. Focus your entire attention on the breathe going around the body.

  4. If thoughts start to arise in the mind, just notice them and then bring your attention back on the breathe going around the body.

  5. Practice for around 5 minutes every day for a week and then increase to 10 minutes.

  6. Some days you will find easier than others, but keep going. If it feels hard to concentrate carry on for a little while longer and it may get easier, but if it does not, stop and try again later on.

  7. Their should not be any strain in mediation but it can be difficult at first to focus the mind on one thing. Be gentle with yourself and don’t get frustrated. It may be helpful to have a sense of humour about thoughts that keep arising during practice.

Please watch the video lesson on how to carry out this meditation.

Anapanasati Mindful of Breathing