A meditation from the Buddist Mindfulness of Breath cannon, judging breath, is a great mindfulness activity. This engages the ever-present discriminating Mind with a simple exercise of judging your breath. You pick just one set of words such as long and short, or rough and smooth. Then at the end of your inhale you judge the breath to be either long or short, or rough or smooth, and at the end of your exhale you judge your breath to be long or short, or rough and smooth. Your meditation is on your breath, you further engage the watching of it by deciding how it felt. If you have any distractions you say “thinking” silently to yourself and in a relaxed way and with a smile in your heart you bring yourself back to the activity of watching, and judging your breath. What seems simple is obviously challenging, our minds are always thinking about this thing and that thing. We are usually not even aware of all of the distractions that are regularly taking us away from the present moment. Thoughts of the future and thoughts of the past, troubling thoughts, happy thoughts, or neutral thoughts and how it is that we hold those thoughts that are buffeting us about from being here right now. The point isn’t to be clear at first but to develop clarity. The point of this meditation, (at least in the beginning) , is to notice the distractions and bring yourself back to the task at hand. Each time we bring ourselves to the present moment, it is like, to use a standard metaphor, like blowing a little dust off the mirror of our Mind. In other words, distraction Is part of the process.
In truth, it is consciousness viewing itself.
Some suggestions for your journey:
Be kind to yourself: When you notice you are distracted, say “thinking” to yourself in a kind and helpful way, and with a smile in your heart, then bring yourself back to the activity. Bringing yourself back to the activity over and over again with the same kindness and smile in your heart. It may happen every inhale and exhale for a long time, years, and years. Then bit by bit, you bring more and more awareness to your ability to pay attention. It is truly something that will transform everything in your life. Learning to be kind to yourself in the process is part of your task.
Relax and know this will calm your Mind. It is funny to think that just meditating on one thing will center and calm your Mind, however, it has been working for thousands of years and will work for you too. Just practice and bring kindness and a sense of being relaxed to the activity.
Don’t over-focus: Pushing or focusing too hard will only accomplish the opposite of paying attention, which is more distraction. This is an unfolding process and should be entered with a sense of wonder and play. You are learning to watch your Mind in action by doing one activity. It is a gentle conversation with yourself.
Be patient with yourself: if you are not acquainted with your Mind, then at first you might think; I can’t do this, my Mind is all over the place! That, too, is thinking! Welcome to being human, bringing patience to the activity is really helpful. Remember that you are developing a new relationship with your self. As with any new relationship, it takes love, time, gentleness, and a desire to honestly learn and pay attention to the new link. In a sense, you are courting a part of yourself with this activity.
Here is the recipe:
1. Good Start (simply decide you are going to do something good for yourself now)
2. Engage your meditative seat.(if you need a refresher click here)
3. Watch the rhythm of your breath. Simply pay attention to your breath.
5. a. At the end of the inhale, you ask yourself, was the breath long or short, or rough or smooth? Just pick one.
b. At the end of the exhale, ask yourself, was the breath long or short or rough and smooth.
c. Only pick one pair of words per meditation. Pick long or short or rough and smooth and do that for the entire meditation.
d. Every time you find yourself being distracted by anything (that is not watching and judging your breath), you say to yourself “thinking” in a kind voice. Then with a smile in your heart, bring yourself back to the activity.
6. When Finishing: Three ending breaths. in through the nose then out through the nose, each deeper than the last
7. Slowly relax and shake your legs out.
So have fun with this. Engage your Mind and pay attention. Court your self by paying attention to this task. It is very transformative and fun if you allow yourself to play.