Thay Explains Breathing Meditation

Exercises on Mindful Breathing 
excerpt from Dharma Talk by Thich Nhat Hanh, 18 January 2004

Counting your breath

Making your breath calm and even is called the method of following one’s breath. If it seems hard at first, you can substitute the method of counting your breath. As you breathe in, count 1 in your mind, and as you breathe out, count 1. Breathe in, count 2. Breathe out, count 2. Continue through 10, then return to 1 again. This counting is like a string which attaches your mindfulness to your breath. This exercise is the beginning point in the process of becoming continuously conscious of your breath. Without mindfulness, however, you will quickly lose count. When the count is lost, simply return to 1 and keep trying until you can keep the count correctly. Once you can truly focus your attention on the counts, you have reached the point at which you can begin to abandon the counting method and begin to concentrate solely on the breath itself.
In those moments when you are upset or dispersed and find it difficult to practice mindfulness, return to your breath: Taking hold of your breath is itself mindfulness. Your breath is the wondrous method of taking hold of your consciousness. As one religious community says in its rule, “One should not lose oneself in mind-dispersion or in one’s surroundings. Learn to practice breathing in order to regain control of body and mind, to practice mindfulness, and to develop concentration and wisdom.

Hanh, T.N., 1996. The Miracle of Mindfulness. Beacon Press.

Breathing Begins Transformation

Breathing Begins Transformation

by Thich Nhat Hanh | Stone Hill Retreat, 13 August 2007

Sitting meditation is a way of returning home to give full attention and care to ourselves. Like the peaceful image of the Buddha on the altar, we too can radiate peace and stability. The purpose of sitting meditation is to enjoy.

Don’t try to attain anything!

At Plum Village, we practice mindfulness of breathing. Whether you sit on a cushion, a blanket, a chair, or directly on the floor, sit in a way that feels comfortable. If possible, inhale through your nostrils, and notice your abdomen expand. Then, as you exhale, notice your abdomen return to normal size. One way to help maintain awareness of breathing is to recite a gatha. When you breathe in, say silently, “In.” As you breathe out, say silently, “Out.” After doing this for a while, you might like to try a guided meditation.

Hạnh T.N., 2007. Chanting from the heart. Berkeley, Calif.: Parallax.