by Tina Hamilton
In this first blog sequence, I’ll be breaking down the Buddha’s teaching of Mindfulness of In-and-Out Breathing into four parts.

As we meditate, focusing on the breath – we can notice that the breath changes. Sometimes it is long deep inhalations and sometimes shorter breaths. When we meditate, we don’t need to regulate the breath, and in fact we shouldn’t try to do so since then the focus becomes on trying to do something, trying to control. In our every day lives, we’re already overwhelmed with things we’re trying to control. When we sit to meditate, it’s a time to just sit and watch the breath. This is our only focus. If you’re new to meditation, you will likely have bombardment of thoughts and may find it challenging to watch the breath for even one minute. This is the practice. Bring your focus back to the breath. Notice the breath without judgement. As one focuses on and follows the breath, you will begin to feel relaxed, calm. Research is showing that there is a correlation between breath and the feeling of calmness. Scientific American published an article in March 2017 – Meditation’s Calming Effects Pinpointed in the Brain that discusses some surprising findings when studying mice – neurons in the brain stem appear to be the link between breathing and inducing a state of meditative calm.

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From the Ananda Suttra – To Ananda: On Mindfulness of Breathing”Now how is mindfulness of in-and-out breathing developed and pursued so as to bring the four frames of reference to their culmination?
“There is the case where a monk, having gone to the wilderness, to the shade of a tree, or to an empty building, sits down folding his legs crosswise, holding his body erect, and setting mindfulness to the fore. Always mindful, he breathes in; mindful he breathes out.
“[1] Breathing in long, he discerns that he is breathing in long; or breathing out long, he discerns that he is breathing out long. [2] Or breathing in short, he discerns that he is breathing in short; or breathing out short, he discerns that he is breathing out short. [3] He trains himself to breathe in sensitive to the entire body, and to breathe out sensitive to the entire body. [4] He trains himself to breathe in calming the bodily processes, and to breathe out calming the bodily processes.Excerpt of Ananda Suttra – Courtesy of http://www.buddhasutra.com/files/ananda_sutta2.htmMy next three blogs will take us through the suttra section on Mindfulness of In-and-Out Breathing, breaking each section down in the same way that I did here. The link above will take you to the suttra if you want to see what’s ahead. In the meantime, keep practicing Mindfulness breathing – in and out