Here is an excellent simple meditation you can do anytime and anywhere – it’s call ‘The Perfect Ten’ Breath Meditation. This breath meditation can be used as a preliminary to almost every other kind of meditation.
The idea is that, during the day, our mind is very stirred up thinking about all the different things that we have to do. We need a very basic meditative technique to bring it to a state of stillness, and from there we can be clear to go into a deeper meditation on a certain object.
You can think of this like the process of taking your car out in the morning. You back it out of the parking spot, and then switch it from “reverse” gear to “drive”. The idea is that you can’t just go from “reverse” to “drive” without stopping the car first; otherwise, you will strip the gears. In between the two, you have to pause and put the car into “neutral.”
The mind before meditation is just the same. Before we shift it into “drive” with a specific meditation object, we have to slow it down first, and put it into a neutral place.
This neutral place is Breath Meditation. Here’s how we do it.
Sit in a comfortable position for meditation, and take yourself through the Meditation Takeoff Checklist. Then bring your mind to your breath. At first, just follow the breath, out and in. That is, normally we think of a breath as being an inbreath followed by an outbreath—the way we take a deep breath before we swim a long distance underwater.
Here though we focus on the outbreath and then on the inbreath. There are a couple of reasons for this. The first breath we take in our life is an inbreath; and the last breath we take is an outbreath. The purpose of deep practices of meditation and yoga is partly to reverse this normal process of aging and death; as a celebration of this intention, we change our conception of a breath—starting with the exhale first.
Secondly, all of us tend to breathe too short, and too quickly. If we are mindful to make our exhales long and full, pushing out the last part of the stale air, then our inbreaths will automatically be full as well, and our mind will be more clear, with the extra oxygen and prana. Thus, we start with an exhale.
So let’s begin our Breath Meditation. After a number of normal breaths with slow long exhales, we begin to focus closely on the flow of the breath. Think of yourself as a tiny little man sitting on the end of your nose, like an attendant at a city parking lot. You are simply watching the cars leaving and returning to the lot.
Don’t try to control the breath, don’t think too much. Just sit and watch the breaths leaving and returning. Glue your mind to the breath as it glides in and out, like a ski that stays in contact with the snow, even as it moves across the snow.
Begin counting the breaths: Each time you exhale and then inhale, this counts as one breath. Focus your mind on the breath, and try not to think of anything else. If your mind comes off of your breath and you do think of something else, then you have to start the count over again at 1.
See if you can reach 10 without thinking of anything else. When you start to try this little exercise, you find that’s it quite difficult. This is an indication of just how scattered our mind usually is, even though we’re so used to it that we rarely notice. As you continue a regular breath meditation practice, you will find that your ability to get to 10 increases.
That’s it, very simple. Take it easy – this simple counting breath meditation focuses your mind to calmness – that’s the Perfect Ten.