Commit to Sit: Week One, The Breath

Commit to Sit: Tricycle's 28-day meditation challenge
IntroductionWorking with Aversion
The Five Precepts Working with Metta
Week 1: The Breath Working with Sense Doors
Week 2: The Body Seated Meditation Tips
Week 3: Emotions & Hindrances Working with Hindrances
Week 4: Thoughts Meditation Supplies
Supplementary Material 7 Simple Exercises

WEEK ONE: The Breath

For the first week, our main focus is the breath. Awareness of the breath is the fundamental technique of insight meditation. By focusing our attention on our inhalations and exhalations we calm the mind and create the conditions for insight to arise. Twice a day this week we will meditate for twenty minutes, focusing on our breath. The following guided meditation will introduce you to this most basic and important practice.

Guided Meditation: Breathe Easy
commit to sit 6
In breath meditation, the mind can be relaxed and spacious; we don’t have to fabricate anything. Take a few deep, easy breaths and release them. Allow the breath to become natural so you’re not trying to force or control it in any way. Notice the place where you feel the breath most distinctly. It may be the in-and-out movements of the air at the nostrils. You may feel tingling or vibration, or changes in temperature. You may feel the breath most distinctly with the rising and falling of the chest or the abdomen: Stretching . . . pressure . . . tension . . . release. Wherever you feel it most natural, most easy, allow your mind to rest in that place and feel the breath. As you feel the breath, you can make a silent mental note to sharpen the concentration: “in” as you feel the breath go in; “out” as you feel it leave your body. Or “rising, falling” with the sensation in your chest or belly. Very gently, very quietly in your mind, just support the awareness of the actual sensations. You don’t need to make the breath special. It doesn’t have to be long or different from however it is, however it changes. It’s happening anyway, so simply be aware of it, one breath at a time.

You may feel your attention wandering. You may realize that you’ve been lost in thought, planning, remembering, whatever. Perhaps it’s been quite some time since you last felt the breath consciously. It doesn’t matter. You don’t have to judge or analyze, or try to figure out how you’ve got to where you’ve got to. Don’t worry. See if you can gently let go of whatever the distraction has been and simply begin again. Gently let go and return the attention to the actual feeling of the breath. This act of beginning again is the essential art of meditation practice; over and over and over, we begin again. You may find your attention wandering constantly. It doesn’t matter. The mind has been trained to be distracted. In a very relaxed and patient manner, just let go, reconnect, come back to the feeling of the breath in this very moment, the natural, uncontrived, normal breath. You don’t have to worry about even the breath you’ve just taken, or the very next one to come. There’s no comparison, no anticipation—it’s the breath right in this moment, as it’s happening. You can settle the mind there. Feel it. Don’t try to hold on to the breath. You may discover that there’s a pause or a gap between the inbreath and the outbreath, or between the outbreath and the next inbreath. If you find such a pause, you can allow the attention to settle in the body. Simply feel your body sitting there. Then allow the next breath to come naturally. End the session by gently opening your eyes. Listen to sounds, feel your body, and see if you can bring some of this quality of presence and connection to the next activity you perform in the day.

Monday–Friday: Meditate for twenty minutes in the morning and in the evening, focusing on the breath.

Weekend Challenge: Devote two hours this weekend to contemplation of the breath. Sessions should be at least thirty minutes long. Spend the entire two hours in silence, alone or with other practitioners.

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cbiggins's picture

Hi Guys, is there supposed to be an audio guided meditation here? I don't mind if not, just didnt want to miss it.

karencaplan88's picture

I commit to this meditation practice on the breath this week as prescribed. I am starting today, April 7th, 2013. I will start this morning with a 30 minute meditation.

pathgirl's picture

I plan to do the 2 hour silent portion on Saturday starting at 12:30...would anyone like to join me?

louise.ackerley's picture

this is what i love about tricycle. there is always something new to discover. I commit to sit for the next 28 days. Thank you

Cindy Collins's picture

Count me in! I'm going through a rough patch, and it's funny that I came across this post just when I need it.

jennifer.hughes's picture

I have been practicing for a while, but this is the first real guidence I have gotten. I will be starting this also tomorrow. rhueben, please feel free to contact me also. I will be checking this site daily.

rheuben.bundy's picture

I am starting this for the month of march. My practice has been sporadic over the years, and i hope that this intensive practice will help me gain a more regular practice. If anyone is reading this today looking for a partner, I will do my regular(:-/) once a day 30 min practice today, and begin this practice for tomorrow. please feel free to contact me, i could definitely use a gym partner :)

pathgirl's picture

count me as your gym partner as well. I have been practicing daily for a long time,, so my goal is to up the ante and practice in the evening.

jennifer.hughes's picture

I will start tomorrow with you ;)

eric.hagedorn's picture

I committed to sit and started today (Sunday, August 21, 2011). I was stretching to exercise and realized how quiet the house was. I found my meditation cushions and started. I was shocked when my cell phone went off letting me know the 20 minutes was over! Being Sunday, I have some free time, but tomorrow the kids go back to school and I go back to work. Finding two 20 minute spaces to sit is going to be TOUGH.