Meditation on the breath is an intermediate practice

Meditation on the breath is a central exercise in many traditions. To such an extent that many people think that it is an important part of all meditation. But that’s not how we normally teach it to beginners in Unified Mindfulness.

There are several reasons for this.

Letting go of control is not easy

Because the breath happens by itself, but we can still control it, it is a powerful way to train attention and the ability to let go. But for many people, trying not to control their breathing is so difficult that they end up controlling it all the time. This eventually becomes very uncomfortable.

That is why we have many different meditation techniques to choose from, so everyone gets a technique they can master quickly. Something that is adapted to their needs and situation.

Breathing meditation can evoke trauma

Meditating on the breath is known to trigger post-traumatic stress. Unfortunately, this disorder is relatively common, and it is not uncommon for sufferers to come to meditation and mindfulness in search of help. Regretfully many of there are scared away from meditation because they do not get the right tools to deal with their suffering.

With other techniques, navigating this landscape can be much easier. Read more about meditating with post-traumatic stress disorder here.

Other techniques are often more effective

We want to provide as in-depth and powerful a tool as possible for those who want to start meditating. In our view, one such tool is to use the senses as a gateway to develop mindfulness skills. We call this See-hear-feel , a technique that combines the meditation paths Focus out and Focus in.

Another kind of meditation that has great potential for beginners is friendliness meditation, also called loving-kindness. In the Unified Mindfulness system, this is in the meditation path Nurture Positive.

Not using your breath as an anchor takes you even deeper

This point is perhaps mostly for the advanced meditator. 

The breath can be a useful anchor for attention, but with more experience we want to let go of as many anchors as possible. Eventually we do not want to identify with either unpleasant or pleasant feelings, or find security in any phenomena – not even the breath.

In meditation teaching, we call this to let go of the witness . For deeply transformative liberation, we want to cultivate the ability to let go of everything and to know nothing , the deepest form of equanimity.

A toolbox for breathing

So there is no room for breathing in meditation? Sure there is, lots of room! For the slightly more advanced, breathing meditations are a very useful addition to the toolbox for meditation techniques.

There are many ways to do this, and a little playful experimentation can be very fruitful.

For inspiration, here is a list of how you can use your breath when meditating on the experience of the body.

Feel out

Places where you can feel your breath in your body:

Read more about Feel out .

Feel rest

Read more about Feel rest .

Feel

Read more about Focus in .

Feel flow

Read more about Focus on change.

Enjoy the breath

Read more about Nurture positive.

Automatic breathing

Read more about doing nothing.

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