The meditation technique we are going to explore here is called anapanasati in Pali, the original language. Its translation is, more or less, the following:
- Sati = take into account, keep in mind, be aware of, suggest observation, follow-up
- Pana = breathing
- Anapana = exhalation and inhalation
Given this we usually translate anapanasati as “Breath Tracking”.
We intentionally dispense with the term concentration because it is very easy to misinterpret and confuse it with something forced, with an attempt to do something that we do not really want to do, but one of the goals of this practice is to improve our concentration, although this must be done in a way Natural and progressive. Through this technique our capacity for conscious attention increases and increases our ability to maintain continuity, with all this increasing psychic and energy integration.
How to Practice Breathing Tracking
Once we are seated we will start by putting the attention on the body by performing a small relaxation exercise, we can walk the body from the feet to the hair trying to feel it and sending a mental message of relaxation, this exercise can last about five minutes, but You see that it costs you much relax to spend a little more time. We begin, after this, to observe our breathing, and I want to note that breathing is a physical process that occurs in the body and if we want to observe it, it would be wise to begin by paying attention to the part of the body that performs this function, namely diaphragm, Chest throat and nose, once captured some of the sensations that occur there while we breathe we try to make ourselves more aware of it and following it while inhaling and exhaling.
We must observe and follow the entire respiratory process from the air through the nostrils to the lungs, trying to realize the sensations, the rhythm, the muscles involved in the process, the difference between inhaling and The exhale, etc. Then when we feel ready we begin to count the breaths after each exhalation. Inhale – we breathe we count one, inhale – we exhale we count two, and we will continue counting up to ten breaths for that point to start again. We will continue this way for a period of about five minutes.
We continue counting the breaths in cycles of ten but now we perform the count before each inhalation, ie we count one inhale-exhale …. This stage is similar to the previous one but now we must stay a little more attentive to anticipate the count to the fact Of inhalation.
We stop counting, trying to keep the conscious attention in the whole respiratory process, both the physical sensations produced by breathing and the rhythm, the space between inhaling and exhaling, etc. And like the previous stages, their duration will be approximately five minutes .
We focus our attention on the area of the nostrils and upper lip, we look for there the sensation that occurs when the air enters with that area of the body, perhaps a tickle, a temperature contrast. We localize this feeling and focus as much as we can on it.
After these last minutes we will have completed the time dedicated to the practice of the Follow-up of the breath, but before finishing and getting up, it is convenient to spend a moment by brief that this is to try to have some clarity of what the experience has been, analyzing Briefly the type of distractions we have undergone, which stage we liked the most and generally try to be clear that has happened in the last twenty minutes. Of course the fact that we try to be focused during each stage in the object of that stage, whether it is to count the breath, observe the whole respiratory process, or observe a subtle sensation around the nostrils, does not mean that we go to achieve it.
Distractions will most likely arise in the form of thoughts, physical discomfort, lack of energy, or anxiety. The way to deal with these obstacles is very simple, at least during the first months of meditators, it is enough to realize and return to the object of practice over and over again with patience and harmony towards ourselves. Moreover, the capacity for concentration necessary To meditate is not greater than to read a book, So that all of us can meditate satisfactorily but just as to read a book it is necessary to develop interest in which the attention and concentration capacity will decrease considerably and a question arises, what interest does the breath have? I myself had to ask myself this question and my answer was that the interesting thing is that following the breath helps me to discover my mind and its tendencies, that following this simple breathing activity calms me down and calming me other states arise, states impossible to experiment with Head full of longing thoughts and distractions, that’s what’s interesting for me.
In addition we should try to enjoy the fact that we are sitting there with a very simple activity observing that process so linked to the existence that is the breath. Try to be relaxed and happy, focusing slowly on the breath, letting go of thoughts without getting entangled with any of them and allow something more calm and beautiful to emerge from that stillness. Most probably after having meditated we will feel our mind less duller, we will be more relaxed and awake, and we will perceive the environment with more vividness,