With each in-breath we are born, with each out-breath we die. The breath is our ballast. Turning our attention to it, we find our center. In almost all meditation practices the breath is the anchor. Beginning meditators learn to be ‘mindful’ of the breath, carefully watching its rise and fall.
When we become anxious or fearful, the first thing that happens is that our breath and heartbeat become irregular and our blood pressure rises. The following meditation, adapted from one of Vietnamese Buddhist master Thich Nhat Hanh’s practices, takes [only a few] minutes but brings the racing mind to a halt and slows the breath. I recommend that you try this whenever you need to return to your center.
A Guided Meditation
Breathing in I know I am breathing in. Breathing out I know I am breathing out. In; Out
(Silence for five breaths as you watch the inhalations and exhalations)
Breathing in, my breath grows deep. Breathing out, my breath grows slow. Deep; slow.
Breathing in I feel calm. Breathing out I feel relaxed. Calm; relaxed.
Breathing in I’m aware of the present moment. Breathing out I know it’s a perfect moment. Present moment; perfect moment.
At the end of the meditation you will notice that your respiration slows, your blood pressure falls, and your heartbeat returns to a normal pace. That’s the body. But the changes in mind and spirit are more striking. You become calm and find a quiet place where all is well, peacefully dwelling in the present moment.