Breath is by nature portable, we take it with us wherever we go. As a meditation tool, Meditation Teacher Sharon Salzberg has been known to point out its “stealthy” nature. Since we’re always breathing, no one needs to know we’re doing so on purpose, or with an extra boost of compassion. It is also one of the simplest, most economical and highly impactful ways we can bring kind attention to our inner experience.
Below is a simple meditation to foster nourishment and calm. It’s inspired by Kristin Neff, Ph.D. and her work in self-compassion. The recorded meditation is about seven minutes. You can also read the directions below and do on your own, extending or shortening as feels good.
If you have any questions about this practice, or mindfulness in general, feel free to contact me here. If interested in more kindness-infused practices check out this metta (aka loving kindness) meditation.
Nourish & Calm with Breath – A Meditation Practice
Begin by settling into a posture comfortable for meditation.
- Taking a shape where you can feel both relaxed and alert.
- Adjusting body as helpful to feel a sense of steadiness and ease.
Then turn awareness towards breath.
- This isn’t about changing breath, rather beginning to rest awareness with natural inhalations and exhalations.
- Feeling physical sensations, and micro-sensations, of breathing.
If at any point mind wanders, know this is normal. It’s okay.
- That moment of awareness becomes an opportunity for kindness.
- With gentleness, simply usher attention back to sensations of breath.
Next begin to focus attention on inhalations.
- Out-breaths continue to occur, you’re simply inclining attention towards in-breaths.
- Expanding awareness to also begin noticing the naturally nourishing nature of inhalations.
- Spending a few moments attuning to nurturing and restorative sensations as you inhale.
Then, turn attention to rest with exhalations.
- Experience of inhaling receding to the background, allowing the experience exhaling to come into foreground of awareness.
- Expanding awareness to also abide with the inherent soothing nature of exhaling.
- Feeling how exhalations naturally soothe and calm.
Finally, expand awareness to rest with both inhalations and exhalations.
- Feeling nourished with every in-breath.
- A sense of softening with each out-breath.